Supplements image of cat and dog


Did You Know?

Fleas and ticks are two of the most frequent pet care concerns in America. Fleas and ticks can be found in every region in the US. While prevention is the best defense against these parasites, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of fleas and ticks so you can help your pets if necessary.

Dog and cat cuddling in backyard

Are you noticing your pet scratching, biting and chewing their fur to relieve the itching and creepy-crawly sensation caused by fleas and ticks? Getting rid of these pests for the long haul can be frustrating. Compounding the problem are other illnesses, some severe, that are associated with flea and tick bites on animals such as cats and dogs. We can help. Stop by one of our stores today to discuss prevention and treatment.

  • Fleas are wingless insects that feed on blood.
  • They can jump up to 2 feet high.
  • Fleas can live for as few as 13 days or as long as 12 months.
  • They can produce millions of offspring.
  • Though there are many species of fleas, the one that most often affects both dogs and cats in North America is the cat flea-Ctenocephalides felis.
Dog and cat cuddling in backyard

  • Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of unlucky host animals, such as cats and dogs.
  • Like mites and spiders, ticks are arachnids.
  • Although their presence may not even be noticed by the host, ticks can transmit many diseases through their bite.

It is very important to never use tick/flea medicine intended
for dogs on cats.

Dog scratching leg

on Dogs & Cats

Cat scratching it's neck

Symptoms of Fleas

Fleas are most commonly noticed on a dog’s abdomen, the base of the tail and the head. Common symptoms of fleas on dogs include:

  • Droppings or “flea dirt” in a dog’s coat (small dark “grains of sand”)
  • Flea eggs (tiny, white grains)
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs and hot spots
  • Pale gums
  • Tapeworms
Dog playing in backyard
Dog playing in backyard

Causes of Fleas

  • Fleas are easily brought in from the outdoors.
  • Fleas thrive in warm, humid climates at temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees.
  • Adult fleas spend most of their lives on the animal, laying eggs in the fur.
  • These eggs drop out onto rugs, upholstery, bedding and furniture; the new adult fleas will, in turn, find their living host (either human or animal).

Flea Complications

  • Fleas can consume 15 times their own body weight in blood, which can cause anemia or a significant amount of blood loss over time.
  • This is especially problematic in young puppies or kittens, where an inadequate number of red blood cells can be life-threatening.
  • Some pets have heightened sensitive to the saliva of fleas, which can cause an allergic reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis.
Dog playing in backyard

Flea Treatment

A treatment plan may include the following:

  • Topical or oral treatment or the use of shampoos, sprays and powders on the pet.
  • Thorough cleaning of your house, including rugs, bedding and upholstery.
  • Severe cases may require using a spray or a fogger, which requires temporary evacuation of the home.
  • It is very important not to use products on your cat that are intended for dogs.
  • Lawn treatments may also be needed if your pet keeps getting re-infected every time they go outside.

Symptoms of Ticks

Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of unlucky host animals, such as cats and dogs. Like mites and spiders, ticks are arachnids. Although their presence may not even be noticed by the host, ticks can transmit many diseases through their bite.

  • Most ticks are visible to the naked eye. Ticks are often the size of a pinhead before they bite, and not noticed until they swell with blood.
  • While these parasites rarely cause obvious discomfort, it is a good idea to check your pet regularly if you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, especially if he spends a lot of time outside.
  • Run your hands carefully over your pet every time he comes inside, and especially check inside and around the ears, head and feet.
Dog playing in backyard
Dog playing in backyard

Complications Associated with Ticks

  • Blood loss
  • Anemia
  • Tick paralysis
  • Skin irritation or infection
  • Lyme Disease
  • Cytauxzoonosis

Tick Treatment and Removal

Step 1: Prepare

  • Put on latex or rubber gloves so you’ll never have direct contact with the tick or your pet’s bite area.
  • Because throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it, you should prepare a screw-top jar containing rubbing alcohol to put a tick in after removal. This also allows you to hold it for veterinary testing.
  • If possible, enlist a partner to help you distract and soothe your pet and hold her still during removal.
Dog playing in backyard
Dog playing in backyard

Step 2: Remove

  • Using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the animal’s skin as possible.
  • Pull straight upwards with steady, even pressure and place the tick in your jar.
  • Do not twist or jerk the tick. This may leave the mouth-parts embedded in your pet, or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids.
  • Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids may contain infective organisms.

Step 3: Disinfect and Monitor

  • Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water, even though you were wearing gloves.
  • Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame.
  • Monitor the bite area over the next few weeks for any signs of localized infection, such as redness or inflammation.
  • If infection occurs, please bring your pet—and your jarred tick—to your veterinarian for evaluation.
Dog playing in backyard
Dog and cat sitting in the grass

Ensure a tick-free lawn by mowing it regularly, removing tall weeds and making it inhospitable to rodents by keeping garbage covered and inaccessible.

Dog playing in backyard

Use a flea comb on your pet and wash his bedding once a week.

Cat scratching its ear

Keep the outside of your house free of organic debris, such as rake clippings and leaves, and remember that fleas like to hide in dark, moist, shady areas.

Dog and cat sitting in the grass
Dog playing in backyard
Cat scratching its ear

There are many preventative flea control products available, both as prescription and over-the-counter formulas.

Many of the same products on the market that treat fleas also kill ticks and prevent against future infestation. Stop by your local store to discuss the best products to prevent fleas and ticks from becoming an issue today.