Archive 2008 - 2019

Fleas and Ticks – Ick!

by Serena Keating

Those icky pests hibernate and as soon as the ground is exposed, those little buggers start their attack…They also can last forever in your home.  I see pets with fleas all year round.  Getting your pet on a regular grooming cycle can help you keep those pesky critters under control.  Not only can grooming keep your pet insect free (and smelling and looking good), often the groomer is the first person to spot other issues with your pet, such as skin rashes or infections.   

Check your pet daily for fleas and ticks.  An itchy pet can be a sign of fleas, but you could just have an itchy dog.  If your pet is itching and so are your ankles, chances are there are fleas lurking about.  Many times, I have seen dogs in my grooming salon that didn’t itch at all.  But, all it takes is one flea to start the cycle.  Check your pet’s skin especially around the tummy and groin where fleas like to hide.  You may see the fleas or flea “dirt,” which look like brownish, black specks. 

Not only do you need to rid your pet of those pests, but your house and possibly your cars, too.  Anywhere your pet goes, so do the fleas.  A groomer can rid your pet of fleas, but if the environment around your pet is not treated, the flea cycle will continue.  Fleas lay a ridiculous amount of eggs that you can’t see. Wash bedding in hot water, and vacuum, vacuum, vacuum… Talk to your vet about spraying or using a flea bomb.  Let your vet know if you have children or other animals in the home when discussing treatment options.   

There are two types of ticks commonly seen in this area – the smaller, yet dreaded deer tick and the American dog tick.  Deer ticks can cause Lyme disease in animals and humans.  American dog ticks can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever.   When checking for ticks, the best place to start is your pet’s head.  I find most ticks on the muzzle, above the eyes, or under ear flaps, even between toes.  Remove ticks as soon as you find them.  Don’t use a match, gasoline, petroleum jelly, or household chemicals.  If you’re squeamish and don’t want to use your fingers, use a tweezers to grasp the tick near the head and pull straight out.   There are also tick keys that are very effective in removing the entire tick by slipping it over the tick and sliding it over the pet’s skin.

Fleas are jumpers and ticks fall onto the victim, so spot check yourself and pet when you come in from a walk in any area where there are woods, brush or long grass.  Wear light colored clothing.  It will help spot those unwelcomed hitchhikers. Any place your pets like to hang outdoors, try to keep the grass and brush cut back short.  

There are many flea and tick products on the market now – collars, topical applications that seep into the skin, powders and pills- traditional treatments and many natural/herbal alternatives.  It is super important to follow the instructions to the letter on application and dosage.  Treatments are not interchangeable between cats and dogs, nor should you split dosages.  Considering the inconsistency of our New England weather, it’s a good idea to treat your pet year round.  Consult your vet as to which product is the most appropriate for your pet.  Don’t forget to treat all your pets in the household.