Vet Blog

Awareness: Why It’s Important to Know about Fleas and Ticks

June 19, 2019

Fleas and ticks may be very common parasites that affect many pets during their lifetime, but many owners admit that they know very little about them and the effects that they could potentially have on their pets.

For this reason, many owners overlook the preventative care that they should be investing in to keep their pets safe or are not as rigid with the schedule with which these preventatives should be given.

So, why is it so important to know about fleas and ticks and what do they mean for your pet should they be infected with them? Here's everything that you need to be aware of.

Ticks and Fleas Spread Disease

Easily one of the most important reasons for protecting your pets from ticks and fleas is the fact that these parasites spread diseases. When they feed on the blood of an animal that has an infectious disease, they can take a little of this disease into their own body and act as an intermittent host for it, passing it to the next creature that they chose to bite.

There are lots of different diseases that can be spread by various types of ticks and fleas. Since it is impossible to know whether a parasite is a potential carrier by looking at it, it is prudent to protect pets against all ticks and fleas.

Diseases spread by fleas include: Tapeworms, Typhus and Plague
Diseases spread by ticks include: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Hepatozoonosis.

These diseases can have severe and even potentially fatal consequences for animals that contract them. It can take weeks or even months for the symptoms of many tick-borne diseases to become apparent, so if you do remove a tick from your pet and they are unprotected, you will need to keep a close eye to check that they don't develop any symptoms that indicate an infection.

Severe Tick and Flea Infestations Can Cause Anemia

Parasites survive by drinking the blood of their host. While these particular parasites are very small, in large numbers that can possibly drain a great deal of blood from your pet, leaving them at risk of anemia and other health problems. Although large numbers of ticks are fairly rare since they are visible to the naked eye, fleas reproduce at an incredible rate and many owners fail to realize that their fur baby is affected by the parasite until there are hundreds or thousands of them using your pet as their food source.

Your Pet Could Be Allergic to Fleas

Flea allergy dermatitis is the single most common allergic reaction seen in domestic animals in the U.S. Many Andalusia pet owners are not aware that flea saliva contains proteins that many pets are hypersensitive too. While some itching and scratching is a normal side effect of a flea infestation, for those pets that have flea allergy dermatitis, a single flea bite is enough to cause unbearable itchiness that causes them to scratch, bite, chew and rub their skin until it is raw. Rashes and lesions can appear across the body along with broken, inflamed, and infected skin. Flea allergy dermatitis is an extremely unpleasant experience for any pet and requires an entire treatment program of antihistamines, antibiotics, and other medications to help get the problem under control.

Fleas and Ticks Can Be Prevented

You will be pleased to know that fleas and ticks can and should be prevented and that prevention is far easier than treating either problem - never mind the fact that it ensures that your pet doesn't suffer needlessly. There are many different products available that can successfully protect your pet from these parasites. Some even combine flea and tick prevention into a single solution, saving you time and money. Make sure that you choose a product suitable for your pet's size, age, and species. If you aren't sure which one to choose, your veterinarian will be happy to make a recommendation for you.

It is essential to remember that all preventatives, whether for parasites or anything else, must be administered as per the schedule recommended by your veterinarian. This is because each is only effective for the timescale given by the manufacturer and further doses must be given on time to ensure protection against these parasites doesn't lapse.

Fleas and ticks may look fairly harmless, but they can make life miserable for your pet and put their health and wellbeing at risk. If you have any questions about either of these parasites or if you would like advice about suitable preventatives for your pet, please contact the Jones Veterinary Hospital in Andalusia, AL by calling (334) 222-4713 to schedule an appointment.