The harmful effects of fleas and ticks can reach far beyond severe discomfort. In fact, both fleas and ticks can carry serious diseases that are dangerous to both pet owner and pet. Thankfully, today there are a variety of products available through veterinarians that can help ensure safety from these pesky parasites.
Other than itchiness, or pruritis, fleas can cause numerous health problems to a pet. In fact, fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, which a pet can ingest and pass in its feces. Fleas can also carry the organism Bartonella henselae, which is one of the causes of “cat-scratch” disease in humans. Many pets are allergic to flea bites causing a single bite to initiate an intense allergic reaction, or flea bite dermatitis (FAD). From this allergic reaction, the pet’s skin can go on to become infected with bacteria and other pathogens.
Ticks can be harmful in small or large numbers. They can transmit serious diseases to both animals and humans. Such diseases are: Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These parasites can also present specific problems when they attach to a sensitive location, such as the ear or eye.
Signs of Infestation
Even if a pet owner has never physically seen a flea or tick on their pet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In pets with darker colored fur, it can often be difficult to see these parasites. Other signs of flea or tick infestation on a pet are scratching, irritated skin, or pepper-like debris (flea feces) in the pet’s fur. Another indicator that there is a flea or tick problem is if the owner finds a tick or small bites on them self.
Fleas and Ticks: Cats vs. Dogs
Fleas and ticks conduct themselves differently on cats than dogs. In fact, a dog with these parasites can even present differently than a cat. For example, ticks are more commonly found on dogs than cats; dogs are more prone to FAD; a cat’s display of discomfort from fleas and ticks can be similar to that of normal grooming habits; fleas and ticks are often found on a cat’s face neck and back while on the rear, thighs and abdominal area of dogs.
Flea and Tick Preventative
Thankfully, there are a variety of flea and tick preventatives on the market today. These products are available from your veterinarian and come in either topical or oral form. Among these products are Advantage Multi, Trifexis and Seresto Collars. It is crucial that products designed for dogs not be applied to cats and vice versa. The use of over-the-counter products on your pet is not recommended. Failure to comply with these recommendations may include allergic reaction, muscle tremors, seizures and, in severe cases, death, for a pet.