Preventing and treating fleas and ticks on your pet

Fleas, ticks -

Preventing and treating fleas and ticks on your pet

Along with Pet First Aid Awareness Month, this April we are als0 moving into flea and tick season here in the UK. Although technically ticks can pop up all year round, they tend to become more prolific once the weather begins to warm up. And as flea season begins, if you’ve noticed your pet begin to start scratching then it’s time to act now!

What can I do to prevent fleas and ticks jumping on my pet?

Preventing fleas, ticks and worms in pets is crucial for their health and comfort, as these parasites can transmit diseases and cause discomfort. Here are some preventative measures that you can take to stop that scratching before it begins!

  • Use preventative treatments: Stick to a routine of using vet-approved flea and tick products such as spot-on treatments, oral medications, collars, or sprays. These products are designed to repel and kill fleas, worms and ticks, preventing infestations. Although you can pick these up in the supermarket, they don’t always work effectively, the best treatments come from your vet. This means that may be a little more expensive, but they work a whole lot better and can be easier to administer. For example you can now get a spot-on treatment for cats that covers fleas, ticks and most kinds of worm. Not all treatments cover everything though so if you have a cat you may need a separate pill or spot-on for tapeworm. It is also worth noting that some dog treatments are highly toxic to cats and vice versa so if you have pets that like to snuggle together, make sure that your vet knows and they will select a treatment that won’t cause issues with other pets.
  • Maintain regular veterinary care: Schedule regular check-ups with your vet to monitor your pet's health and discuss flea and tick prevention strategies. Your vet can recommend the most appropriate preventive products based on your pet's age, size, health status, and lifestyle. They may also want to weight your pet in order to administer the correct dosage of treatment. If you suspect your pet has fleas or ticks, or if you have any questions about preventive measures, consult your vet for guidance. They can recommend the most effective products and provide personalised advice based on your pet's needs.
  • Keep your home clean: Vacuum your home frequently, paying attention to areas where your pet spends time. Wash your pet's bedding, blankets, and toys regularly in hot water to kill any flea eggs, larvae, or adults. Keeping your home clean and free of flea habitats can help prevent infestations. Your vet may also sell room spray that kills fleas and their eggs if you think you have an infestation.
  • Take care of your outdoor environment: Keep your lawn mowed short and remove any tall grass, bushes, or debris where fleas and ticks may thrive. Consider using pet-safe insecticides or natural alternatives to treat your garden for fleas and ticks, especially in areas where your pet likes to play.
  • Avoid high-risk areas: When walking or hiking with your pet, try to avoid areas known to be infested with fleas and ticks, such as tall grass, bracken, wooded areas, or areas frequented by wildlife. Stick to well-maintained footpaths whenever possible. Wild deer are notorious for carrying ticks so try to avoid areas where these species hang out, if you can. 
  • Check your pet regularly: Perform routine checks of your pet's fur and skin for signs of fleas, ticks, or flea dirt (small black specks that indicate you have a flea infestation). Pay close attention to areas such as the ears, neck, underarms, and between their toes, where parasites may hide.
  • Groom your pet: Regular grooming can help remove loose fur, dirt, and debris from your pet's coat, making it less hospitable for fleas and ticks. Use a flea comb to brush through your pet's fur, and consider using pet-safe grooming products that contain ingredients known to repel pests.
  • Prevent wildlife access: Limit your pet's exposure to wildlife, as they can carry fleas and ticks into your home and yard. Secure outdoor rubbish bins, seal off crawl spaces, and use fencing to keep wildlife out of your property.
  • Be vigilant during peak seasons: Flea and tick activity often peaks during warmer months, so be especially vigilant during spring and summer. Increase preventive measures during these times and be proactive in checking your pet for signs of infestation.
  • Consult your vet: By following these preventive measures consistently, pet owners can help protect their furry companions from the nuisance and health risks associated with fleas and ticks.

What should I do if I find a flea or tick on my pet?

If you find a flea or tick on your pet, it's essential to take prompt action to remove the parasite and prevent further infestation. Here's what you should do:

  1. Stay calm: While finding a flea or tick on your pet can be alarming, it's essential to remain calm and composed to effectively handle the situation.
  2. Isolate the parasite: If possible, isolate the flea or tick to prevent it from escaping or infesting other areas of your home. Use tweezers, a flea comb (or in the case of a tick, a special tick tool) to carefully remove the parasite from your pet's fur.
  3. Remove the parasite properly: When removing a tick, grasp it as close to the skin as possible with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool. When removing a flea, use a flea comb or your fingers to catch and remove it from your pet's fur.
  4. Dispose of the parasite: After removing the flea or tick, place it in a container and dispose of it safely. I usually wrap ticks in tissue and flush them down the toilet. Avoid crushing ticks with your fingers, if they are still attached as this can potentially transmit diseases or cause the parasite to release more saliva into your pet's bloodstream.
  5. Inspect your pet: Once you have removed the flea or tick, thoroughly inspect your pet's fur and skin for any additional parasites. Pay close attention to areas where fleas and ticks commonly hide, such as around the ears, neck, underarms, and between toes.
  6. Administer preventative treatment: Administer a vet-approved flea and tick preventive treatment to your pet as soon as possible to prevent further infestation. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
  7. Treat your home: If you find fleas or ticks on your pet, it's crucial to also treat your home to prevent reinfestation. Vacuum your home thoroughly, paying special attention to areas where your pet spends time. Wash your pet's bedding, blankets, and toys in hot water to kill any remaining parasites or eggs. Consider using pet-safe insecticides or natural alternatives to treat your home and yard for fleas and ticks.
  8. Monitor your pet: Keep an eye on your pet for any signs of irritation, allergic reactions, or illness after removing the flea or tick. If your pet exhibits any unusual symptoms, contact your vet for advice.

By taking swift and appropriate action, you can effectively handle the presence of fleas and ticks on your pets and prevent further infestation. It can be daunting the first time you find a tick, but it soon becomes easy to remove them and move on, with regular preventive measures and vigilant monitoring to help keep your pets healthy and comfortable all year round.

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