Fleas, Tick, and Lice…OH MY!

 

It is that time of year again folks! Here in the Northern USA, Flea season is upon us again. Typically, in the colder parts of the USA, flea & tick season is roughly from May to September. In the warmer regions, flea & tick season is year-round. Regardless of where you live, it is imperative to maintain year-round protection for your pets, because a flea or tick can be ANYWHERE at ANYTIME. Discovering the conditions that lead to an optimal environment for fleas and ticks, can help you know when and how to ramp up your preventative measures.

 

Temperature: It’s getting Hot in Here

Both fleas and ticks flourish in warmer clients, between 70 to 85-degree range, but they can survive in cooler temperatures. In addition, extremely high heat will destroy fleas and ticks, as well as their eggs. If you are suffering from a flea infestation, washing, and drying your pet’s bedding on high heat is a must to eradicate them. In fact, I would recommend washing your clothes, shoes, and your spraying your pet with a preventative spray to kill any stragglers. It is important that you complete the wash and dry cycles on high heat because some fleas have been found to live through a simple wash.

Once the temperature falls below freezing for a few days in a ROW, the adult fleas will die. However, the eggs, larva, and pupa, can survive in cold weather. The non-adult fleas will go dormant, and when temperatures rise again, they will hatch and begin to look for a host. Similarly, ticks are only dormant, NOT DEAD, when the weather is below freezing. If the temperature rises in the wintertime, be cautious of ticks just like you would in summer.

 

Humidity: Hairs worst nightmare, Fleas and ticks’ best friend.

 

Fleas and ticks THRIVE in high humidity, with the ideal being around 70 %. The moisture in the air is a necessity for ticks’ larvae to mature into nymphs. It is in the nymph stage that ticks feed upon hosts for the first time. As adults and in the egg and larvae stages, ticks can be found in most organic matter-like leaves, brush/bushes, and taller plants. The ticks climb up tall plants to search for a host (ex: Birds); when they get dehydrated, they crawl down to find another host (ex: your pet). This makes outdoor cats especially susceptible to ticks, as they tend to climb trees.

Humidity is a key factor for fleas too. The moisture is necessary for eggs to hatch and for the fleas to progress through their life stages.

 

Woods, Grass, and Brush

Ticks generally live in the woods, where they can easily find warm-blooded hosts. A great example is the deer-tick, probably the most well-known species of tick. This means that while you are out hiking in the woods, the ticks are on the prowl to latch onto your pet and onto you! Fleas tend to be in dark spaces around homes, like a small crawl space or in the cracks of your dogs’ bed. Fleas and ticks thrive in suburban and rural areas, making them easily caught in a dog park. However, city pets need just as much protection as any pet. In fact, city pets are at a higher risk because there are such limited food sources for the fleas and ticks to use, which makes your pet a prime target. Remember that wherever there are deer, there will be ticks, even in a city garden.

 

Let there be…. LIGHT

Fleas and ticks thrive in dark spaces and are extremely sensitive to high heat and low humidity. You can take steps to reduce the risk in your home by eliminating shaded areas and keeping the grass and bushes well-trimmed.

 

How to Spot Fleas on Dogs

“Signs that your dogs have fleas are the insects themselves or flea dirt, which is actually the feces of the flea,” says Meghan Solc, DVM, DACVD, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist at Dermatology for Animals in Akron, Ohio.

Flea dirt looks like tiny black flakes or ground pepper-like dots on your pet. You can perform a flea dirt test by applying a wet piece of paper on the suspected flea dirt. If it changes color to red or brown-reddish, it’s usually flea dirt.

“Most often we don’t see any of the signs but see the symptoms of flea allergy,” Solc says.

Common symptoms of any dog with fleas include:

·       Itching

·       Licking

·       Chewing

·       Scratching

Fleas often hide around your pooch’s tail, rear and belly because they are warm and protected there, Dr. Cain says. Overly sensitive dogs can be disturbed by even a single flea bite.

“Some dogs can have an allergic response to flea saliva, which can result in increased itch with exposure to fleas and subsequent flea bites,” Dr. Cain says. “This can result in self-induced hair loss, redness, crusts (scabs), hot spots and secondary skin infections, particularly around the back half of the body (rump, back of thighs, sometimes inner thighs), since fleas tend to hide in the dense hair coat around the rump of dogs.”

Do not be fooled Pet Parents! Even if you see one flea, you have a flea problem. Think of the one flea you saw as a scout, sent out to find more suitable hosts to invade. One way to detect fleas on your pets is by running a flea comb through their fur. The JW Pet Grip soft Flea Comb for cats and dogs was designed to remove pests without irritating pets’ skin and includes a soft handle to make the task easier for you too.

Once you find fleas on your dog, act fast. There are plenty of safe and effective products available for dogs of all ages and sizes.

First off, consult with your veterinarian or one our knowledgeable pet experts online or in-person!

For example, if your dog spends a lot of time in the water, it can decrease the effectiveness of topical products. Also, if your household includes other types of pets, like cats, some topical products labeled for dogs might be toxic to them.

It is crucial to use flea control products consistently, as labeled, for the best and safest results, she adds.

“In some dogs, especially those with flea allergy, we may recommend more frequent use of flea control products or combinations of flea control,” Dr. Cain says.

   

Prevention is the best Treatment

While fleas and ticks prefer cats, dogs, and other mammals with fur, they bite people too. In homes with severe flea infestation, people can develop itchy bites, mostly on their legs.

To protect you both, expand your battle plan to include treatments for your home. If you detect an infestation, move quickly to vacuum carpets and rugs and other flooring to remove eggs and larvae; add TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Carpet Powder for added strength and to kill anything your vacuum leaves behind. Throw all your pets bedding and any human bedding they have been in contact with, into the washing machine on HIGH HEAT wash and dry. In addition, a home spray like Nature’s Protection Herbal Bug Spray by Earth Animal or TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Spray will help kill and repel the critters.

In addition, ticks can jump from host to host, and can cause LYME disease in you and your pets. Ticks can and will latch onto humans just as easily as they do on our pets. If you see a tick on your pet, there is a good chance you have ticks in your yard (if you have a yard). For those who have a yard, we recommend TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Spray, for use in the yard and home.

 

For your pet there are many different available products. All of our flea & Tick products can be found on  our online store or in our brick & mortar store. Oral flea and tick medicines require a veterinary assessment and are by prescription only. Check out Venturing Vets for vet service from the comfort of your own home, including flea/tick medicine!

We have taken the time to list the most popular ones to educate yourself on the variety and mechanisms of each one.

Over-the-Counter Flea Medicine for Dogs

Flea Collars for Dogs

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:

DELTAMETHRIN

Found in: PetLock 6 month Collar for Large Breeds and Small Breeds

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 6 months

Age limit: 12 weeks or older

How it works: Kills fleas by disrupting nervous system function.

IMIDACLOPRID, FLUMETHRIN

Found in: Seresto 8 Month Flea & Tick Prevention Collar, Small Breed, Cats

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 8 months

Age limit: 7 weeks or older

How it works: Kills fleas by disrupting nervous system function.

Cedarwood and Peppermint Oil

Found in: TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Dog & Cat Collar, & Large Breed Dogs

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 7 months

Age limit: 12 weeks or older

How it works: Repels Fleas Naturally with essential oils

Topical Flea Medicine for Dogs

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:

CYPHENOTHRIN, PYRIPROXYFEN

Found in: Sentry Pro XFT Flea & Tick Squeeze-On

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 12 weeks or older

How it works: Cyphenothrin kills fleas by overstimulating the nervous system. Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator that interferes with insect growth and development, thus preventing reproduction.

Imidacaloprid, Pyriproxyfen

Found in: PetLock II

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 8 weeks or older

How it works: Dinotefuran and Permethrin kill fleas by overstimulating the nervous system. Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator that interferes with insect growth and development, thus preventing reproduction.

ETOFENPROX, PYRIPROXYFEN

Found in: Sentry Pro Toy & Small Breed

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 12 weeks or older

How it works: Etofenprox kills fleas by overstimulating the nervous system. Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator that interferes with insect growth and development, thus preventing reproduction.

FIPRONIL

Found in: Sentry FiproGuard Flea & Tick Squeeze-On

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 8 weeks or older

How it works: Fipronil kills fleas by inhibiting a key neurotransmitter in the pest’s central nervous system.

FIPRONIL, CYPHENOTHRIN

Found in: Parastar Plus Flea & Tick Treatment

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 12 weeks or older

How it works: Fipronil kills fleas by inhibiting a key neurotransmitter in the pest’s central nervous system. Cyphenothrin kills fleas by overstimulating the nervous system.

FIPRONIL, (S)-METHOPRENE

Found in: Frontline PlusHartz Pet Defender Plus, and PetLock Max

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 8 weeks or older

How it works: Fipronil kills fleas by inhibiting a key neurotransmitter in the pest’s central nervous system. (S)-Methoprene is an insect growth regulator that interferes with insect growth and development, thus preventing reproduction.

FIPRONIL, (S)-METHOPRENE, PRIPROXYFEN

Chewable Flea Tablets

ACTIVE INGREDIENT:

NITENPYRAM

Found in: Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs

Target: Fleas

Treatment frequency: As prescribed by veterinarian

Age limit: 4 weeks or older

How it works: Kills fleas by overstimulating their immune systems.

Prescription Flea Medicine for Dogs

Topical Flea Medicine for Dogs

ACTIVE INGREDIENT:

FLURALANER

Found in: Bravecto Topical

Targets: Fleas

Treatment frequency: 12 weeks

Age limit: 6 months or older

How it works: Kills fleas by overstimulating their immune systems.

IMIDACLOPRID, MOXIDECTIN

Found in: Advantage Multi

Targets: Fleas

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 7 weeks or older

How it works: Kills fleas by inhibiting a key neurotransmitter in the pest’s central nervous system.

SELAMECTIN

Found in: Revolution Topical Solution

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 6 weeks or older

How it works: Kills adult fleas by disrupting their nervous systems; stops reproduction by preventing eggs from hatching.

Chewable Flea Tablets

ACTIVE INGREDIENT:

AFOXOLANER

Found in: NexGard Chewable Tablets

Target: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 8 weeks or older

How it works: Kills fleas and ticks by overstimulating their immune systems.

LOTILANER

Found in: Credelio Chewable Tablet

Targets: Fleas

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 8 weeks or older

How it works: Kills fleas by inhibiting a key neurotransmitter in the pest’s central nervous system.

LUFENURON , MILBEMYCIN OXIME

Found in: Sentinel Flavor Tablets

Target: Fleas

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 4 weeks or older

How it works: Lufenuron is an insect growth regulator or insect development inhibitor that interrupts the biosynthesis of chitin (which makes up their exoskeletons) in flea larvae but has no effect on adult fleas.

SAROLANER

Found in: Simparica Chewable Tablets

Targets: Fleas and ticks

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 6 months or older

How it works: Kills fleas by inhibiting a key neurotransmitter in the pest’s central nervous system.

SPINOSAD

Found inComfortis Chewable Tablets, and Trifexis Chewable Tablets

Targets: Fleas

Treatment frequency: 30 days

Age limit: 14 weeks or older (Comfortis); 8 weeks or older (Trifexis)

How it works: Attacks the adult flea’s nervous system, causing rapid death.

 

The Takeaway

It’s impossible to completely prevent exposure of your dog to fleas and ticks. However, experts agree that year-round use of effective flea and tick control products like the ones listed above can go a long way. All animals can get fleas, whether they live indoors or outdoors, if the yard is treated, if it is winter, etc. The best and most efficient way to prevent flea infection is continuing with year-round flea prevention.

After all, it is vastly easier to prevent a flea infestation than to treat on that is already established!!

By Jasmine Ward