When you have pets, especially strictly outdoor critters, chances are you have worried about flea and tick infestations. If you're wondering whether to treat them, the short answer is "yes." Preventing flea and tick infestations does more for your pet than save him from a few annoying bites.
Grab a Bite To Go
When you get right down to it, fleas and ticks are like tiny little vampires. They pounce on your unsuspecting pet and help themselves to his blood. Ticks typically fall off once they've drunk their fill, their bodies expanding to grotesque proportions as they become engorged with your pet's blood. Fleas, on the other hand, set up residence on your pet and spend their days eating, having some hanky-panky and then laying eggs. The eggs typically fall off to hatch in the environment, where the little larvae feed and grow, eventually cocooning themselves to develop into adults.
A Big Problem From a Little Bite
Basically, fleas and ticks view your pet as a walking smorgasbord. This would be bad enough, but in exchange for blood, the little parasites can transmit a number of diseases to your pet. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while large flea infestations can cause hair loss and skin reactions in animals with allergies to their bite. Some of these infections and illnesses can pass to humans as the pests move from pet to person when you offer your dog or cat some snuggles.
De-Pest Your Pets
The trick to protecting your pets from fleas and ticks is to kill and repel the parasites without making your pets sick in the process. Preventative medications such as Frontline Plus, Revolution or Advantage work by essentially making your pet inhospitable to fleas and ticks. The active chemicals in the medications are distributed by your pet's oil glands, and attack the nervous system of the parasites to repel or kill them. In most cases, this protection lasts for a month, preventing new fleas and ticks from climbing aboard and picking up where their fallen brethren left off. The pesticide chemicals in many prevention medications can have unpleasant side effects, so consult with your veterinarian for the right formula for your pets.
No Parasite Zone
Removing the little buggers from your pets is a good first step, but more will simply jump back on Fluffy or Fido from their little bug hideouts in your yard. Treating your property for the parasites can help stop the cycle from starting over. Chemical pesticides can help keep heavy infestations at bay, but some simple maintenance can have an impact too. Ticks love tall grass, as this is how they latch onto passing animals to feed. Keep all grass, weeds and other landscaping cut short to remove these tick bus stops. Fleas tend to live in shady, high-humidity areas such as dog houses or other locations your pet may frequent. Clean your property to promote good lighting and airflow to prevent these types of flea havens.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.