Start at the Source
One of the first places to start when protecting your pet from fleas and ticks is with your pet’s surroundings. When hiking or playing outdoors, try to keep your pet on trails and away from tall grasses and brush. Doing so reduces the contact with areas preferred by these pests as well as contact with wildlife that may carry them.
For your own lawn, keep trash and food scraps secured so as not to entice wildlife to enter your yard. Keep leaves and debris cleared. Store firewood away from the exterior of the home or porch areas.
When it comes to fleas and ticks, the fewer grassy areas, the better. Stone or mulch landscaping and decking options allow for a welcoming space for you and your pet that is less likely to harbor fleas and ticks.
Inside the home, vacuum and sweep frequently to reduce dust, hair, and dander. Sprays and treatments are available for lawns and home areas, but such products are not always safe for pets.
Check with your vet for advice and possible interactions before using pesticide products.
Protect Your Pet From Fleas and Ticks
Treating the environment is not always an option, but treating your pet is! Regularly brush your pet and check for ticks, fleas, or flea eggs.
Flea combs can be a simple and effective way to remove fleas and eggs from your pet’s coat. If you do find an attached tick on your pet, take care in removal.
Do not squeeze the body of the tick. Do not apply any product to the tick in hopes of irritating it and forcing the tick to remove itself. Carefully remove the tick from the skin in such a way as to remove it intact. Inexpensive removal devices can be purchased, or tweezers may be used.
It is certainly not unusual for fleas and ticks to gain access to our pets by hitching a ride on our own clothing. Wearing light-colored clothing and repellents containing DEET, Permethrin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus can help reduce your chances of becoming a target for biting insects.
Wearing hair up, long sleeves and pants, and wearing a hat can add an additional layer of protection. After spending the day outside, passing over socks and pant legs with an adhesive lint roller may trap and remove unwelcome pests.
Using a flea and tick treatment or repellent is the best way to protect your pet. A variety of options exist, from flea and tick collars to topical applications and even oral medications.
All these options have their advantages and dosing guidelines. Though many options are readily available at your local pet supply store, it is important to match the treatment to your pet’s weight and consider any additional concerns, such as any skin conditions or other existing health concerns.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
We commonly associate fleas and ticks with warmer weather but protecting yourself, and your pet is a year-round necessity here. Some ticks can be active in temperatures as low as 45-degrees. F
leas can certainly be quite an itchy nuisance, but ticks carry the added risk of diseases such as Lyme.
Of course, not all ticks are carrying a disease, but what do you do if you remove a tick from yourself or your pet? Most importantly, do not panic.
Follow the guidelines for removing the tick mentioned above and avoid touching the tick with your bare hands or crushing it. Contrary to popular advice, it is not critical to remove the mouthparts of the tick from the skin to avoid disease.
The mouthparts do not transmit the disease and will eventually dry and be expelled by the skin if they were unable to be removed. Though not a pleasant thought, the process is harmless.
How Avery Creek Pet Hospital Can Help
For a tick to transmit Lyme disease, it must be attached for a period of time – usually 36 hours or more.
A thorough search of yourself and your pet and prompt removal of any found ticks is critical after time spent outdoors. If you remove an attached tick from yourself, be aware of any rashes resembling a bull’s eye pattern or an expanding area around the bite of about two inches in diameter.
Smaller areas of redness or irritation around the bite are often a reaction to the bite itself and not indicative of disease. Take note of any fever, chills, muscle discomfort, or swollen glands. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms.
As with humans, symptoms of Lyme disease in pets are lethargy, fever, and joint pain. Skin rash is not common for animals around the bite.
Lyme disease cannot be passed from person to person or from pet to person.
If you notice your pet exhibiting any of the above symptoms, be sure to contact ACPH or your local veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.