What’s that crawling on my pet!! EEK!!! Did you know that there is no such thing as “flea and tick season”? These pesky little creatures can be found living on your pet YEAR-ROUND!! And both can be responsible for transmitting serious diseases to your pets.
Fleas live outside in your yard and also on their hosts (dogs, cats and other mammals) . Females lay their eggs in the environment – shaded grassy areas outside; carpet and dark corners inside. Flea eggs hatch in about 10 days and become adult fleas within about a month. Adult fleas can live in the environment without a host for up to 100 days!!! Although fleas cannot survive on a human, they can bite and cause and itchy reaction.
Ticks live in the environment near their hosts (deer, dogs, cats, rodents and many other animals). It can take up to 3 years for a tick to become and adult; they require a blood meal at each stage to continue developing. Ticks can survive in the environment for a few days without a meal but are resistant to inclimate weather when they have a host.
Besides being creepy and crawly, fleas and ticks can spread parasites and diseases to their hosts. The most common cause of tapeworms in your pet is from a flea infestation – your dog or cat can ingest fleas from biting and grooming themselves which can lead to the parasitic infection. Ticks can transmit several diseases from biting their host. In Pennsylvania we are mostly concerned with the transmission of Lyme Disease from deer ticks, which can lead to chronic infections that can be life-threatening.
The good news is there are multiple safe, fast-acting, effective prescriptions available to keep these bugs from bugging and biting you and your pets. They come in many forms – oral chewables treats, topical liquids and collars. I only recommend getting these medications through a veterinarian, as some of the over-the-counter drugs can cause severe reactions, seizures and even death. Because the fleas and ticks do not die during the winter I recommend treating your pets year-round so you never have to deal with an infestation. So be sure to talk to your veterinarian about safe ways to prevent fleas and ticks from using your pet as a host!!!