Parasite Prevention and Control
At Princess Animal Hospital, we want to ensure all cats and dogs are protected. Common in the warmer months, ticks and fleas are easy to prevent but difficult to treat. We take parasite prevention very seriously. Why? An example is that severe flea infestations can take over your household, affecting all residents, including your pets. A little-known fact is fleas can lay up to 30,000 eggs at once, and they hibernate for up to 6 months before needing a blood meal. Oh no!
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.
What are ticks?
Ticks come in 4 stages: egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. They are parasitic organisms that attach themselves to the skin of dogs, cats, and other mammals by using their mouthparts. These parasites feed on their hosts’ blood. They can cause toxicosis or hypersensitivity, and in some cases, blood loss anemia. As ticks can transmit bacterial or viral diseases, the skin, the lymphatic and immune systems, and the nervous systems can be negatively affected if gone untreated.
How can you tell if your pet has fleas and/or ticks?
One of the common symptoms is you may notice your pet scratching or grooming excessively. In severe cases, they can have hair loss or skin infections. In some cases, you may also notice black pepper-like debris in the fur, known as “flea dirt.” The naked eye can see adult fleas. 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 greyish. Ticks often look like small skin tags as the tick embeds its head under your pet’s skin, and only its body is visible. To ensure Ticks are removed effectively, specifically designed and inexpensive (e.g. Tick Twister) should be used. It will help to ensure all of the head and mouthparts are removed.
How do you prevent fleas & ticks in pets?
At Princess 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. Due to these items’ sensitive nature, we don’t recommend store-bought flea products as they can be ineffective.
What should I do if I find fleas on my pet(s)?
Overall, the best defence against fleas is a good offence! It is far easier to prevent fleas than treat them. If your pet lives a “high risk” lifestyle (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 in the environment (our homes our outside), they will complete their transition from larvae to pupa to adult flea. Since pupae can live in a dormant state for almost 300 days, it is tough to get rid of an infestation. 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/treatment.
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 613.634.7123.