Why are Fleas and Ticks a problem?
Fleas and ticks are different in many regards, but they have one thing in common: they are parasites that feed off your pet's blood and can cause serious health problems. For many pets, the problems they create reach far beyond being a nuisance.
Fleas: Fleas are wingless insects with great jumping ability that feed on blood through their needle-like mouth parts. Fleas are extremely persistent, as a species. The females each lay up to 50 eggs daily, and those eggs can begin hatching out as soon as two days later and as long as six months later. Fleas can bite your pet up to 400 times and will spend most of their lifetime on their hosts. Flea bites can be irritating to pets, but they can also be the source of diseases and other parasites, such as flea allergy dermatitis, Bartonella, anemia, and tapeworms. Fleas can be a problem year-round inside our homes and from early spring through late fall outside.
Ticks: Ticks are spider-like arachnids that spend most of their lives living in the environment rather than on a host and can lay thousands of eggs at a time. They have barbed mouthparts, which make them difficult to remove completely. Ticks can leave nasty bites behind, but, more importantly, can transmit debilitating or life-threatening illnesses like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. In recent studies, approximately half of all ticks are carriers of tick-borne illnesses. Ticks can be a problem in our area year-round, as low temperatures may not kill them.
What to do to combat a flea or tick problem?
Because fleas are so invasive of their environment, it takes a long-term and multi-faceted approach to beat them completely. Prescription medications, either topical or tablet, are most effective at reducing the flea population. Measures should be taken inside the home environment to aid in killing the flea population, as well. Daily vacuuming, especially along baseboards and in carpet and upholstery is a valuable tool for picking up flea eggs in the home and is a good complement to flea medication. Because the flea eggs can hatch out up to six months after being laid, it is imperative to continue flea control medications for at least that length of time to get the fleas under control.
The best flea medication is Comfortis, a monthly tablet, which is available for both cats and dogs. Comfortis kills fleas faster than any monthly control available. Vectra3D is a monthly flea and tick topical that is also very effective at combatting fleas on pets. Nexgard is a monthly chewable that is recommended for protection against fleas and ticks, killing them very quickly. Unfortunately, most over-the-counter flea medications, like those you could purchase at a discount or pet store, are ineffective at controlling flea populations and can be harsh to pets' skin.
Ticks spend most of their lives on plants, waiting for a host to come by, so keeping preventative on pets, especially those that spend much time outdoors, is important for preventing tick bites and the diseases they transmit, including Ehrlichiosis, Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Repelling ticks and quick removal are the best tactics to use to protect pets from tick-borne illnesses that can be transmitted after several hours of attachment. Nexgard and Vectra3D are the best products to use for tick control, as they not only kill any ticks that get on your pet, but they also repel ticks, fleas, and flying insects like mosquitoes. Over-the-counter tick preventatives are slow to kill ticks after they attach, which leaves your pet exposed to the transmission of tick-borne illnesses.