FIND A VETERINARIAN
FIND AN MVMA SPECIALIST
best way to attack fleas and ticks is to prevent them from getting to your pet
before you ever have a problem. There are a number of flea and tick control
products for use on pets, including once-a-month topical products, sprays,
dips, shampoos, collars, powders, oral and injectable products. You may see
some live fleas or ticks on your pet for a short time after spraying,
shampooing, dipping, etc. In order for the fleas and ticks to die, they must
come into contact with the insecticide and absorb it.
Once-a-month topical insecticides are applied to a small area on your pet's
back. They are probably the easiest product to use, and generally last the
longest. Some kill fleas and ticks, and others just kill fleas. Also, some
control adults, larvae and egges. Some only control adults and some only
control eggs and larvae. So check the
label carefully. Ingredients generally include permethrin, pyrethrin or
fipronil. Since many dog products can be very harmful if used on cats, read
the label carefully. Do not use products containing permethrins on
Flea and tick control sprays can come as aerosols or pump bottles. When
using a spray, you do not have to soak the pet with the spray, but be sure
to spray all parts of the animal. Spray a small amount on a cotton ball to
apply the product around the eyes and ears. Do not get any of these products
in the eyes. Follow your veterinarian's and the manufacturer's directions on
how often to spray, and spray in a well-ventilated area.
Dips and rinses are applied to the entire animal. They generally have some
residual activity. They should be applied in a well-ventilated area
according to your veterinarian's and the manufacturer's directions. It is
helpful to put cotton balls in the pet's ears and ophthalmic ointment in the
pet's eyes. Even with these precautions, be very careful not to get any of
the product in the pet's ears or eyes. Dips or rinses for cats contain
pyrethrins. Again, read the label carefully. Many products for dogs are not
safe to use on cats.
Flea and tick shampoos help to primarily rid the pet of the fleas and
ticks he already has on him, although some have residual activity. To
properly use a flea & tick shampoo you must be sure to work the shampoo in
over the entire body and then leave it on at least 10 minutes before you
rinse it off. Again, remember to protect the eyes and ears of the pet.
Shampoos often contain pyrethrins.
Flea and tick collars can be effective, but must be applied properly. To get
the right degree of snugness, you should just be able to get two fingers
between the collar and your pet's neck. Be sure to cut off any excess
portion of the collar after you have properly applied it. Otherwise, that
animal or other pets may try to chew on the end. Check the package for
information on duration of effectiveness since some collars lose
effectiveness when they get wet, e.g., if your dog swims a lot. Watch
carefully for any irritation under the collar. If this occurs, you may need
to use a different product.
not use collars containing Amitraz, permethrin, or
organophosphates on cats.
Products containing an insect development inhibitor are available as a
tablet for dogs and cats. The tablets are
given once a month. Not all of
these products kill the adult fleas, so if you have fleas, you may also need
something to kill the adults. There is one oral product that kills adult
fleas, but it last only 24 hours. Otherwise, these products only control
reproduction and require the flea to bite to be effective.
Flea combs are often overlooked as a valuable tool in removing fleas. Your
pet will love the extra, hands-on attention he gets as you comb through his
coat. Flea combs are absolutely non-toxic and are the best method to use on
ill, pregnant or infant pets. Be sure to choose a comb that has 32
teeth/inch. Comb your pet and then place the fleas you comb off in detergent
water, which will kill them. The disadvantage to flea combing is that it
takes a considerable amount of time, and will not be effective in pets that
have flea bite hypersensitivity.
Flea Control in Your Home
this message is reaching you too late and your pet already has fleas, you
need to treat your home as well as the pet or you won’t be rid of them.
Indoor flea control involves removing all stages of the fleas, killing any
remaining adults and preventing immature forms from developing. Here is what
you need to do.
Start by vacuuming thoroughly, especially
below drapes, under furniture edges, and where your pet sleeps. It is
estimated that vacuuming can remove up to 50 percent of flea eggs.
Vacuum daily in high traffic areas, weekly in others. Each time, seal
your vacuum bag in a plastic bag and discard it immediately. Do
not place mothballs or
flea collars in the vacuum, since toxic fumes could result.
Use a product that will kill any remaining
adult fleas and also stop the development of eggs and larvae. You will
need a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth
regulator, such as Nylar (pyriproxyfen) or methoprene. This can be in
the form of carpet powders, foggers, or sprays.
Foggers are especially good for large open
areas. Surface sprays can reach areas such as baseboards, moldings,
cracks, and under furniture where foggers cannot reach. Choose the
product(s) you use with care, taking into account the presence of
children, fish, birds, persons with asthma, etc. Your veterinarian can
help you choose the appropriate products for your situation. In severe
infestations, you may need the help of a professional exterminator.
Wash your pet's bedding weekly and treat the
bed and surrounding area with a product that contains both an adulticide
and an insect growth regulator.
Do not forget to also clean and treat your
automobile, pet carrier, garage, basement, or any other place your pet
spends much time.
To remove an attached tick,
use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or special tick removal instruments.
These special devices allow one to remove the tick without squeezing the
tick body. This is important, as you do not want to crush the tick and force
harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter the pet's bloodstream.
Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts
right where they enter the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body.
Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily
directly outward. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling.
Using methods such as applying petroleum
jelly, a hot match, or alcohol will NOT cause the tick to 'back out.' In
fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more
disease-carrying saliva in the wound.
After removing the tick, place it in a jar
of alcohol to kill it. Ticks are NOT killed by flushing them down the
Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. If
you want to, apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment.
Wash your hands thoroughly.
Do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of
the tick. Do not squash the tick with your fingers. The contents of the tick
can transmit disease.
Once an embedded tick is
manually removed, it is not uncommon for a welt and skin reaction to occur.
A little hydrocortisone spray will help alleviate the irritation, but it may
take a week or more for healing to take place. In some cases, the tick bite
may permanently scar leaving a hairless area. This skin irritation is due to
the irritating and destructive tick saliva. It is not due to the tick losing
its head, literally. Do not be worried about the tick head staying in; it
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