Fleas and Ticks: We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet (Or Ever)

Picture: Dog Getting Flea Medicine

On daily basis in the examination room, I talk about parasites with my purchasers. Each consumer, each affected person, as a result of no pet lives in a bubble, completely separated from the outdoors world. Even indoor pets on the eighth ground of a high-rise are in danger. Fleas and ticks, though the most “seen,” are sometimes not seen by pet mother and father and, consequently, this will increase threat for his or her pets and even the pet’s human household. So let’s check out these ugly little buggers.

What We Know About Fleas

Fleas like heat and humidity: round 70°F and 70% humidity are best. So if the temperature drops, they usually make it into homes the place the central warmth is on by hitchhiking on pets and on individuals’s clothes. As soon as inside, they’ll change into a year-round problem and a possible family infestation. After they leap onto a number and take a blood meal, fleas change into obligate ectoparasites (“obligate” means they don’t have a tendency to leap from pet to pet [they have their free meal, so why move?], and “ectoparasite” means they reside on the outdoors of the host). The grownup feminine then begins laying eggs. The eggs behave considerably like little ping-pong balls and fall off the pet, usually the place she rests or sleeps (together with your mattress, if Fluffy sleeps with you!).

Right here’s what the relaxation of the flea life cycle seems like:

  1. An egg hatches right into a maggot-like larva.
  2. The larva feeds in the setting, molts just a few instances, then spins a cocoon and turns into a pupa.
  3. The pupa hatches as an grownup flea.
  4. The grownup flea then seems for a number.

The pupal stage is the hardest stage to kill and is the cause fleas live through the winter so simply. Happily, with the assist of your veterinarian, a flea infestation may be conquered. Your veterinarian can suggest a parasite management product that may break the flea life cycle.

What We Know About Ticks

Ticks, on the different hand, spend lower than 10% of their complete life on the host, and the ticks in North America have a Three-host life cycle, which implies that Three of the tick life levels feed on a number. Every feminine tick lays as much as 18,000 (sure, thousand) eggs in the setting.

Right here’s what the tick life cycle seems like:

  1. An egg hatches, and a larva emerges.
  2. The larva quests for (seeks) a number, feeds, drops off into the setting, and molts right into a nymph.
  3. The nymph quests for a number, feeds, drops off, and then ultimately molts into an grownup.
  4. The grownup quests for a number, feeds, and is able to drop off. Then the feminine lays as much as 18,000 eggs.

For some tick species, this life cycle can last more than Three years!

As you may see, most of the tick’s life is spent in the setting and on completely different hosts — mammals (together with cats, coyotes, deer, canines, mice, opossums, raccoons, rats, and squirrels), birds, and amphibians. That’s why there’s no easy way to break their life cycle, like there’s with the flea. Including to that, though ticks don’t feed 365 days of the 12 months, ticks feed 12 months of the 12 months. Even when there’s snow on the floor, if the temperature rises to 40°F, ticks are searching for a number!

This makes ticks a year-round drawback and a risk to not solely our pets however our households as properly. Ticks can transmit ailments, comparable to Lyme illness, Rocky Mountain noticed fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis, to cats, canines, and people. And though most individuals affiliate ticks with the outside, one species — the brown canine tick — truly prefers to reside indoors and has been recognized to trigger infestations in homes! (Assume 18,000 eggs hatching. That is the stuff of Hollywood horror motion pictures!)

How We Assist Defend Your Pet Towards Fleas and Ticks

There are various good merchandise obtainable now to assist protect your pet in opposition to fleas and ticks. However some are categorized as medicine (so that they’re authorized by the FDA), some are thought-about pesticides (so that they’re authorized by the EPA), some are over the counter, some are by prescription solely, some are for canines solely, some for cats solely, and some ought to be used with warning round kids … deciding on the proper product on your pet may be fairly complicated!

Let’s clear up the confusion. Most pets ought to be on a flea and tick management product year-round. All 12 months spherical. Your veterinarian is aware of and understands the merchandise, that are the most secure, the most cost-effective, the correct software/administration, and whether or not there might be interactions with some other drugs your pet is taking. We depend on you to verify we perceive your pet’s and household’s way of life so we will help you choose a product that may work finest for you. When you’ve got an infestation, we are able to information you thru how you can eradicate it. And in case your pet has contracted a flea- or tick borne disease, we all know how finest to deal with her.

Cooperation and communication between you and your veterinarian are very important for selecting the optimum parasite management routine on your pet. Seek the advice of along with your pet’s veterinarian. That is what we do — and do properly. Don’t attempt to go it alone!


This text initially appeared in the Fall 2016 problem of HealthyPet journal.

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