Fleas and Ticks

 
General Flea Information
Fleas are small, brown or black, wingless insects with flattened bodies. Several types of fleas infest the haircoats of animals, and some may occasionally feed on people. These blood-sucking insects cause considerable irritation and distress to infested pets. Severe infestations may lead to anemia from blood loss. Fleas spread the common dog and cat tapeworm, and carry several viral and bacterial diseases. Flea bites also cause skin allergies, rashes and sores on both pets and their owners.
The best places to look for fleas on your pet are the hindquarters, base of the tail, stomach and groin regions. Sometimes no fleas are found but only tiny, black granules that resemble black pepper. This material is flea feces and consists of digested blood ("flea dirt"). To distinguish this material from dirt, smudge it on white paper or add a drop of water to it. If you see a reddish-brown color, your pet has fleas, even if you can find none.
After taking a blood meal, fleas drop off the animal and deposit their eggs in cracks, crevices and carpeting. A single breeding pair of fleas may produce 20,000 fleas in 3 months.
Eggs hatch after 2-12 days into larvae that feed in the environment. Larvae molt 2 times within 2-200 days and the older larvae spin a cocoon in which they remain for 1 week to 1 year. The long period during which the larvae remain in the cocoon explains why fleas are difficult to eradicate from the environment. A hungry adult flea emerges from the cocoon.

Flea Control and Insecticides
Since both your pet and its environment contain fleas in various stages of development, a flea-control program must consider fleas on the pet and in the environment.
We are all concerned about insecticide exposure to you, your pets and our environment. The best organic method of flea control is daily use of a flea comb (a special fine-toothed comb which can be purchased in any pet store) on your pet and thorough vacuuming of the environment.. Avon Skin So Soft, and brewers yeast/garlic change the odor of your pet's skin, and will help repel fleas. These natural products however are not useful in flea infestation.
When using insecticides to eradicate fleas, you must apply them correctly and at proper intervals. All pets and the environment itself must be treated to eradicate fleas. In severe infestations, it is advisable to employ a professional exterminator for house and yard treatment.
The oral insect growth regulator Programr is a unique product designed to prevent flea infestation. Think of Program as flea birth control. By breaking the flea life cycle it will prevent infestations in the home. It is not an insecticide and therefore is not toxic to your pet. It also does not kill fleas. Adult fleas must be controlled using previously mentioned techniques.
Your veterinarian will help you tailor a flea control program for your individual situation. If you need to use insecticides be sure to keep them away from children. Read the container's label carefully when using chemicals and insecticides.

General Tick Information
Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that infest most animals and sometimes people. Their life cycle is complex and involves one or more species of animals as hosts. Female ticks deposit their eggs in the environment after a blood meal.
Ticks attach to the skin and feed on the animal's blood. Tick bites may become infected, and some ticks produce a toxin that can cause paralysis and even death. Ticks also spread several serious diseases of animals and people, such as Lyme disease, [Use your browser's BACK BUTTON to return to this page] ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
How to Remove Ticks
If only a few ticks are present on an animal, they may be plucked off individually. Tweezers should be used to remove the ticks as ticks may carry organisms infectious to people. To remove a tick, grab the head firmly while gently depressing the skin around the tick. Pull straight out without twisting. After removing a tick swab the area well with peroxide or alcohol. A red raised area is normal if the tick was embedded, and does not mean that your pet will get Lyme disease.
If you are unable to remove the head along with the body of the tick, usually your pet will eventually eliminate it as it would with any other superficial foreign material. Watch for any signs of infection, e.g. pain, oozing etc, in the area. Call your veterinarian if the area looks infected.
Please note: The information provided here is meant to supplement that provided by your veterinarian. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination performed by your veterinarian.