Pet Parasite Prevention and Control
At Downtown Animal Hospital, we want to ensure all cats and dogs are protected from all types of parasites including fleas. Common in the warmer months (although still around during the winter), ticks and fleas are easy to prevent but difficult to treat. We cannot stress enough that prevention is key. Why? Fleas and ticks can not only affect your beloved pets, severe flea infestations can take over your household and harm even the other people who you live with.
What are fleas?
Fleas are small, parasitic insects that feed by sucking blood from mammals and birds. While immature fleas do not bite, adult fleas usually feed several times a day. In most parts of Canada, the peak flea season is early August to early October. Fleas can lay up to 30,000 eggs at once, and they can hibernate for up to 6 months before needing a blood meal.
What are ticks?
Ticks are parasitic organisms that attach themselves to the skin of dogs, cats, and other mammals. These parasites feed on their hosts’ blood. They can cause toxicosis or hypersensitivity, and in some cases, blood loss anemia. As ticks can be transmitters of bacterial or viral diseases, your pet’s skin, lymphatic, as well as their immune systems and nervous systems can be negatively affected if they are not treated urgently.
How can I tell if my pet has fleas and/or ticks?
Your pet scratching or grooming excessively is one of the most common symptoms that you may see. In severe cases, they can experience hair loss or skin infections. Sometimes, you may also notice black pepper-like debris in the fur, known as “flea dirt.” Unlike some parasites, both ticks and fleas are visible to the naked eye. You may or may not see your pet scratching if they have fleas.
Ticks are larger than fleas and grow as they feed on your pet, changing colour simultaneously from a dark brown to a greyish hue. Ticks often look like small skin tags as the tick embeds its head under your pet’s skin. Usually, only its body is visible. To ensure Ticks are removed effectively, specifically designed and inexpensive tools like a Tick Twister should be used. It will help to ensure all of the tick’s head and mouthparts are properly removed.
How do you prevent fleas & ticks in pets?
At Downtown Animal Hospital, we offer many safe and effective products to prevent flea infestations and tick attachment, including topical and oral options. Our team can help you make the right decision for your pet. We do not recommend the use of store-bought flea products as they can be ineffective.
What should I do if I find fleas on my pet(s)?
The best line of defence against fleas is a good offensive strategy! If your pet lives a “high risk” lifestyle (e.g. indoor/outdoor pets, doggy-daycare goers, etc.) it is best to keep them on prevention year-round. Since adult fleas can live up to 100 days, they have an optimal opportunity to feed off your pet’s blood and produce more eggs. When these eggs hatch they will complete their transition from larvae to pupa to adult flea. Pupae can live in a dormant state for almost 300 days! If you have a flea infestation, your pet must be treated for a minimum of 3 months. If you have other pets in the house, whether other cats, dogs or ferrets, all pets in the home must be on prevention.
If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment to discuss your pet’s parasite prevention plan, please give us a call at 613.634.2440.