Mastering Effective Flea and Tick Control: Proven Methods from College Hills Veterinary Hospital

As the weather warms up in College Station, Texas, fleas and ticks become increasingly active, posing a greater threat to pets. These parasites thrive in humid climates, making flea and tick control even more crucial. Pet owners must remain vigilant in protecting their furry friends from potential infestations and the associated health risks. Our blog post will address specific challenges and provide strategies to combat fleas and ticks during this heightened activity.

Identifying the Signs: Recognizing Fleas and Ticks for Effective Control

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals, including dogs, cats, and even humans.

Life Cycle of Fleas

diagram of the life cycle of a flea

Fleas go through four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are laid on the host animal but quickly fall off and can be found in carpets, bedding, cracks in the flooring, and furniture. The larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on organic matter, such as flea feces and skin debris. They eventually spin a cocoon to form a pupa and emerge as adults, ready to jump onto a new host.

Photo: Flea Infestation on a pet
Photo: Flea Infestation on a pet

Life Cycle of Ticks

diagram of the life cycle of a tick

The life cycle of a tick also consists of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult, with each stage requiring a blood meal from a host to progress to the next.

Photo: Removing a tick from a dog
Photo: Removing a tick from a dog

Common Signs of Flea and Tick Infestations

Detecting a flea or tick infestation early is critical to effectively treating the problem. Watch for signs indicating fleas or ticks have infested your pet.

  • Excessive scratching, biting, or licking.
  • Mild to severe redness, irritated skin, or small bumps on your pet’s body.
  • Sometimes, you can see fleas or ticks crawling through a pet’s fur.

You can find fleas anywhere on a pet’s body, but fleas prefer areas where the pet cannot easily groom, such as the back of the neck, face, ears, and the base of the tail.

According to the AVMA, in dogs, ticks are most often found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and between the toes. However, they can be found anywhere on the body. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face.

Why is Flea and Tick Control so Important?

Fleas and ticks are not just nuisances; they can pose serious health risks to pets.

  • Allergic reactions: Fleas can cause allergic reactions in animals, leading to excessive itching, hair loss, and skin infections.
  • Transmit diseases: Fleas can also transmit diseases such as Bartonella (cat scratch fever) and tapeworms.
  • Anemia: Fleas can cause anemia in cats and dogs, especially if the infestation is severe. Fleas feed on blood; when they infest an animal in large numbers, they can cause significant blood loss over time. Anemia can cause symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, and pale gums, and in severe cases, it can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Ticks can transmit a host of diseases, such as:

  • Lyme disease
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Coonhound Paralysis
  • Anaplasmosis

Flea and Tick Control Treatments

Preventing fleas and ticks from infesting your pets is essential for their well-being. There are several methods you can use to protect your furry friends.

  • Topical Treatments
  • Oral Medication
  • Flea and Tick Collars

Choosing the Right Flea and Tick Control Products

With a wide range of flea and tick prevention products available, choosing the right one may leave you uncertain which one to choose. When selecting a product, consider your pet’s age, weight, and health condition. Some products may not be suitable for puppies, kittens, or elderly pets. It’s also crucial to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the product’s effectiveness and safety. Additionally, reports suggest that fleas and ticks are developing resistance to some over the counter (OTC) medications. For these reasons, we recommend you consult one of our College Hills Veterinary Hospital veterinarians before choosing. Our veterinarians can guide you on the most effective and appropriate treatments for your pet’s needs.

Tips for Mastering Flea and Tick Control

Preventing fleas and ticks from infesting your pets goes beyond just treating them. Maintaining a flea and tick-free environment is equally important to prevent re-infestation.

  1. Groom your pets using a flea comb. You can learn from PetMD: How to Use a Flea Comb on a Cat and How to Use a Flea Comb for Dogs.
  2. Vacuuming is essential to controlling fleas and ticks. Vacuuming removes adult insects, disrupting their life cycle by eliminating eggs and larvae deep within carpets and upholstery, reducing suitable habitats for breeding, and capturing pests in vacuum bags or canisters. Immediately after vacuuming, throw out vacuum bags or empty canisters in an outside trash can.
  3. Wash your pet’s bedding and any other fabric they come into contact with.
  4. Keep your outdoor areas well-maintained. Mowing the lawn and removing leaves and other debris can reduce the chances of fleas and ticks thriving in your yard.
  5. Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  6. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away if you know how to. Otherwise, contact us immediately to schedule having the tick or ticks removed. Such an appointment is a relatively quick appointment.
  7. Flea traps like the Victor Flea Trap can help reduce flea infestations. They work by attracting fleas to a source of heat, usually a low-wattage light bulb that mimics the heat of a warm-blooded animal. While these traps can effectively catch fleas, they do not prevent fleas from hitching a ride on your pet. One should only use them as a deterrent, not a replacement for effective flea and tick control products that kill fleas on your pet.
  8. Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance made from fossilized diatoms (a type of algae). It’s commonly used to kill fleas because it absorbs oils from their exoskeletons, leading to dehydration and death. Apply food-grade DE to flea-infested areas, let it sit for 12-48 hours, then vacuum thoroughly. Repeat as necessary and use caution around pets.

Removing Ticks from Your Pet’s Body

It is crucial to remove ticks correctly for several reasons:

  1. Incorrectly removing a tick can cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound, increasing the risk of disease transmission.
  2. Incorrect removal methods, such as squeezing or twisting the tick, can cause it to break apart, leaving parts of its mouthparts embedded in the skin. These left-behind mouth parts can lead to infection or localized reactions.
  3. Proper removal techniques minimize discomfort and trauma to the skin. Ticks can be firmly attached, and incorrect removal methods may cause pain or irritation.
  4. Some pets may be allergic to tick saliva or components of the tick’s body. Proper removal reduces the likelihood of allergic reactions.
  5. If you damage the skin during improper tick removal, it may become susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. Proper removal reduces this risk.

Please watch this video from PetMD on How to Remove a Tick from Your Pet. Just click on the picture below to watch.

Ensuring Pet Safety: Following Proven Strategies for Effective Flea and Tick Control

In conclusion, as we navigate the warmer months in College Station, Texas, where fleas and ticks thrive in the humid climate, pet owners must remain proactive in protecting their beloved animals from potential infestations and associated health risks. By implementing the strategies outlined in this blog, from choosing the appropriate control products to maintaining a flea and tick-free environment, pet owners can ensure the safety and well-being of their furry companions. Remember, staying informed and seeking guidance from one of our veterinarians at College Hills Veterinary Hospital is essential to effectively navigating the complexities of flea and tick control. Contact us now. Together, we can safeguard your pets against these persistent parasites.

Warm regards,

Your Veterinarian Team

College Hills Veterinary Hospital

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