Scratch! Scratch! Your pooch is miserable with an itch and makes everyone around extremely uncomfortable. It’s probably flea time once again with fleas and ticks doing rounds after their winter hibernation. The presence of a single flea most often indicates the presence of many more and the sooner you put an end to them, the better it is for you and your furry friend. Your pet spends so much time outdoors that it’s very easy to contract fleas and ticks.
What are fleas and ticks?
Do you know that fleas date to a period that takes you back 100 million years? They’ve been around for so long that you cannot remember them not having been around. Fleas are tiny insects that are parasitic in nature. Hence they are constantly in search of a warm host that can provide a "bloody meal." Their remarkable jumping skills make it easy for them to attach themselves to the coats and skin of dogs and cats, laying numerous eggs as they do so. Ticks too are ectoparasites and thrive on the blood of birds and mammals. Fleas and ticks are not only annoying but also pose a health hazard.
Left untended, fleas become stronger, but the good part is that these nuisance mongers can definitely be killed. Let’s take a look at how fleas and ticks can be eradicated.
Topical medications as the name suggests are topically applied to the skin of dogs and cats that suffer from flea infestations. The products generally contain substances that are anathema to fleas and ticks. Spot-on flea and tick treatments are applied between the shoulder blades or at the base of the neck so that it’s out of reach to your pet’s tongue. For a large dog, about two vials are needed. Over a period of time, the medication permeates into the sweat glands of the skin and the active ingredient is gradually released. It works by ensuring that fleas are killed before they lay eggs, prevents larvae from developing and eggs from hatching. It also repels the odious pests.
- Topical medications start working immediately and guarantee 100 percent results within 24 hours
- provide protection from fleas and ticks for a month
- convenient to use
- act as repellents
- effective against Lyme disease
- Some side-effects such as redness or swelling, hair loss or itching may be present
Flea and tick pills can be administered orally and are available for dogs as a monthly pill. Some oral pills successfully do away with fleas and ticks and also afford protection against internal worm diseases. Oral administrations work by sterilizing fleas and preventing reproduction. The fleas die of their own accord in a couple of weeks.
- Oral medications are non-toxic and non-messy
- In combination with other products, even severe flea allergies can be dealt with.
- Needs to be combined with other products for immediate results
- Some animals develop allergic reactions resulting in redness, itching, nausea, and diarrhea. It could cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Does not repel fleas and ticks
Powders are easy to apply as small amounts of powder just have to be sprinkled on your pet’s coat and then rubbed in gently using a brush. For greater effectiveness, powders should be applied once a week.
- Easy to apply on pets and the surrounding environment too
- Weekly applications help keep fleas and ticks at bay
- Hard to ensure that the entire body is covered
- Powder tends to blow away if it is windy or if your pet chooses to shake itself
- Vomiting decreased appetite, and diarrhea are some possible side-effects
Sprays are easy to apply and the effect lasts longer than other treatment forms. Flea sprays are generally effective so long as your pet doesn’t come into contact with water. It is an inexpensive way of controlling fleas and ticks on your pooch. Sprays work in the same way as spot-on applications do. The neuro-toxins present attack the nervous system of these pests and kill them. They prevent the development of eggs and larvae and inhibit future infestations.
Dog flea shampoos generally contain pyrethrins, which kill adult fleas and wash away the eggs. For greater effectiveness, the shampoo should be allowed to remain on your pet’s body for at least 15 minutes and then rinsed off.
- Shampoos wash away adult fleas and their eggs and provide immediate relief
- Relief is temporary
- Ineffective against flea infestations
These are concentrated liquids that are diluted with water. The resulting solution is either sponged on to your pet or poured over the whole body and then allowed to dry. Dips are effective when there are a heavy flea and tick infestation and do provide immediate relief. However, as they are difficult to apply and provide only short-term relief, dips are not very popular with pet owners.
- Effective as a one-time application
- Difficult to apply and has limited efficacy
- Cannot be used on puppies or pregnant dogs
Flea collars are ideal for repelling fleas and ticks. They contain Pyrethrin and growth regulators that inhibit the flea population. They are an inexpensive way to counter fleas and ticks but have a strong, irritating odor. Some collars work by repelling fleas, some contain active ingredients that are fatal to ticks and fleas, while other collars repel, kill fleas and their larvae.
- An inexpensive way to ward off fleas and ticks
- Easy to handle
- Have an irritating odor
- Dangerous for young puppies and kittens
- Pose a risk to children and human beings
Fleas and ticks may be small, wingless creatures but the havoc they cause is devastating. Don’t wait for an infestation to happen, tackle fleas and ticks on a war footing the moment you see them. A visit to your vet could help decide which treatment is best for your pet as factors such as age, weight, allergies, and safety have to be considered.
Don’t let fleas tick and do make ticks flee!