The health of our furry friends is a major concern for us when it comes to ensuring their comfort and safety. Being a pet parent comes with immense responsibilities, some of which require a lot of patience and care. From digestion to skin and fur-related issues, nothing should be neglected.
According to a research conducted by the University of Bristol, 1 in every 4 cats and 1 in every 7 dogs in the UK have been affected by fleas infestations. According to another research by the University of Bristol it was revealed that 31% of dogs included in the study were found to be carrying a tick. Similarly, Pubmed revealed that upon examination 32% of cats were found to be infested by ticks. These numbers show that fleas and ticks are an issue which has been a rising concern among pet parents.
The warm and soft fur serves to be a perfectly hospitable environment for fleas and ticks. These parasitic insects thrive on the blood of your pets and can cause them to experience severe problems.
Indications of breeding fleas and ticks
● Flea droppings: Fleas leave dirt on your pet’s fur after they suck blood from them. These droppings appear as small black spots on the fur of the pet.
● Scratching and licking: When fleas and ticks bite the skin of your pet, this generally produces irritation to the pet’s skin that results in scratching and licking.
● Eggs: When in a hospitable environment, female fleas lay their eggs on the fur of your pet. These flea eggs are quite hard to spot and can look like very small grains of rice on the fur.
● Scabs covering the skin: Constant scratching due to these parasitic insects causes scabs to be formed on the body.
How does your pet become flea and tick-infested?
Fleas and ticks generally thrive in our surrounding environment; however, they breed during the summer season due to the warmth and humidity that accommodates their breeding. Generally, the source of ticks and fleas on your pet’s body comes from the outdoors. Parks, backyards, or gardens are the very immediate source of fleas and ticks to your pets. Since parasitic activities are contagious, your pet can also acquire infestation from other pets if they are in close proximity to an infected pet. Ticks and fleas lay millions of eggs on the fur of your pet within a very short period, and this is how infestation quickly builds up.
What are the problems caused by a tick or flea infestation?
● Allergy: Allergic reactions are one of the most immediate problems that are caused by ticks and fleas. The allergens in flea or tick saliva can cause allergic reactions to the skin that can result in significant irritation and the formation of red patches due to itching.
● Lyme disease: Ticks carry pathogens of a bacterial infection known as Lyme disease. This disease can cause mobility problems in pets as the motor functions do not work properly due to reduced energy and lethargy. If your pets have ticks on them, they might expose you to the risk of contracting Lyme disease as well, as a tick bite can also cause humans to get Lyme disease.
● Anaemia: Ticks and fleas breed on the fur of your pet for a significant amount of time. Since they are parasitic by nature, they feed on the blood of the host which can lead to a significant amount of blood loss over time. This causes a deficiency of red blood cells in the body and can be life-threatening for your pet.
● Tick paralysis: The salivary glands of a tick produces neurotoxins. These toxins are injected into the host’s bloodstream and can cause weakness in the muscles. If the attachment is prolonged then it might also cause the muscles to be paralysed.
How would you remove ticks and fleas?
Though fleas and ticks are both parasitic in nature, the way they should be removed differs.
To treat a flea infestation, you should consider long-term solutions like topical spot-on treatments or flea collars. You can also consult a veterinary doctor or local pet shop if you need help to determine the dosage of the treatment that you need to give to your pet.
However, just treating your pet for fleas is not enough. Once your pet has been infested by fleas, there is a high possibility that there are more hotspots of flea infestations in your house. In particular, the areas of the house which are accessible by your pets have high chances of infestations. Through meticulous vacuuming, washing of soft furnishing and the use of a household flea spray, infestations in the house can be controlled.
Some treatment methods for ticks are similar to those of fleas, which includes the use of treatments such as topical spot-on solutions or tick collars. Apart from that, a tick should be removed manually but there are several important considerations to keep in mind when doing so:
● Use a specialised tick hook instead of tweezers.
● Use gloves or some protective cover to avoid contact with bare hands.
● Grab the tick near the skin.
● Pull the tick straight up and do not twist.
● Do not pop the body because it contains blood and any contact might transmit diseases.
● Disinfect the tick hook and the protective covering.
How to prevent fleas and ticks
Various methods can be adopted for the prevention of fleas and ticks. Let us go through some of these methods and how they can help prevent fleas and ticks from infesting your pet.
There are medications that can be registered to your pets to avoid flea and tick infestation. This commonly includes oral medication (e.g. tablets) and topical medication (e.g. spot-on treatments). You can visit your local pet shop or vet to get advice on how to administer flea medication for your pet.
Flea and tick collars
Flea and tick collars are one of the most viable and easy solutions to ward off ticks and fleas.
Older style collars usually work by releasing toxins in the form of gas to kill parasites that are in close proximity to the collar. Now, the newer style collars such as the Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar for dogs and cats contain active ingredients that have been clinically proven to kill fleas and ticks within 24 hours, as well as repel ticks before they even bite your pet. These active ingredients are continuously released and spread out through the natural oils of your pet’s skin and fur, which makes them highly effective in preventing future ticks. Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar is the longest-lasting flea and tick protection available, giving you peace of mind for 7 – 8 months.
The Seresto Flea and Tick Control Collar is odourless, water-resistant and easy to apply. It also has a safety release mechanism which makes it perfect for exploring pets!
Flea and tick shampoos are another option to treat adult fleas that are visible on the body. Cleansing your pet with these shampoos according to the directions of use on the label can help in treating adult fleas and ticks that have bred on your pet. However, it is important to realise that flea and tick shampoos do not have much longevity in terms of effectiveness, as they only treat the parasites which are currently present on your cat or dog. The fleas you see on your pet are only adult fleas while the immature fleas have infested your home. Without a long-term treatment, they can hop on to your pet at any time, starting the flea infestation cycle all over again.