What’s Up with the Chewables? Flea and Tick Prevention Edition

What’s Up with the Chewables? Flea and Tick Prevention Edition

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Written by Kealy Fitzsimmons, a veterinary student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine.

Our main priority is to keep your pet safe and healthy. One step of that is your monthly flea and tick prevention. Prevention is a very important step in preventative health for your animal. Preventative health means to prevent or decrease the severity of the disease and monthly prevention does just that. Here we explain the importance of flea and tick prevention.

What are fleas?

The main flea that pet parents should be worried about is the cat flea- Ctenocephalides Felis. This is the flea we find on our pets. Fleas aren’t just annoying little bugs; they can be fatal if the infestation is severe enough. Fleas function by sucking the blood of your pet and that can lead to other problems like anemia. These little pests can also cause severe skin issues in your animal like flea allergy dermatitis. This can lead to severe itching, skin infections, hair loss, etc. Fleas can also transmit other diseases and parasites like tapeworms and a bacteria called Bartonella that causes health issues in cats, dogs, and people. 

How do fleas survive? 

Once fleas have a blood host, they lay eggs, these eggs fall off your pet and into your home. After the egg stage, fleas hatch from the eggs and are larvae. These larvae feed on adult flea feces (which is your pet’s digested blood) that fall off your pet’s hair coat. After that the larvae spin cocoons which are often in carpet fibers for pupation. They are now pupae and these pupae are resistant to freezing, drying, and insecticides and can be dormant in the environment for months. Fleas are developed from the pupae and can begin feeding on your animal within hours of finding a host; your dog or cat. Most of the flea life cycle isn’t on the animal, so even though you might not see any fleas on your animal, it doesn’t always mean there aren’t fleas in the animal’s environment.

Fact: a single female flea can produce up to 2,000 eggs in her three-week lifespan. 

How does my animal get fleas?

Your animal can get fleas from a lot of things; being outside, being around another animal that has them. Fleas also like to hitchhike into your home by riding on a warm body and entering the home. Fleas cannot live on humans as we don’t have fur for them to live in, so don’t worry about that. But once that flea hitchhikes on you and enters your home that’s when it can infest your pet and your home. While in your home, fleas especially like living in carpets and pet beds. 

Did you know? 95% of a flea’s life cycle occurs in the environment of the host (like your home) and only 5% of their life on the host.

How can I prevent fleas?

You can prevent fleas by using flea prevention! These can be an oral chew or a topical application to your pet. Most flea preventions are monthly but there are 3-month options also. The medicine in the prevention is transmitted to adult fleas when they bite your pet and in different ways, they all prevent the flea from completing its life cycle, therefore, killing the flea.

It can cost between $75- $600 to treat your home for fleas. 

Now let’s talk about the other creepy crawlers- ticks.

What are ticks?

Ticks are skin parasites that feed on the blood of the host. They like warm body temperatures and motion. Ticks aren’t usually painful but can transmit diseases and conditions and that’s why tick prevention is crucial to your pet. Ticks are usually found more in secluded areas with dense vegetation, think wooded and grassy areas, which is why if you and your pet go for a hike in the woods, you’re more likely to find a tick than if you’re walking downtown in a urban city. 

How can I prevent my animal from getting ticks?

Prevention, duh! Just like fleas and heartworm disease, prevention is key. Tick prevention is usually found combined with flea prevention. Ticks have to be feeding on your pet for 24-48 hours before transmitting any disease; tick prevention works by preventing ongoing attachment and stops ticks from excreting their saliva which is what transfers disease into your pet. And if you go out into an area that might have ticks, give your animal a good feel over once you’re done to make sure there aren’t any on them. Ticks like to attach around the animal’s head, ears, neck, and feet so double-check those areas. 

Did you know? Ticks are daredevils. They don’t jump or fly but they will wait for their host on the ends of long grasses and brush by a thing called questing. They will hold onto the grass/brush with their back legs and reach out with their front legs to wait until a host walks by and then grabs onto the host!

Vetted is a membership plan that focuses on your pet’s preventative health. Vetted focuses on empowering pet parents to take control of their pet’s preventive health and guide them through pet parenthood. We want our members to feel confident in caring for their pet’s health and focus on having fun and enjoying life with their pets. A Vetted membership includes; reimbursement on preventative health vet services, preventative health products right to your door, and a 24/7 virtual vet professional chat.

In your Vetted membership, you will receive your monthly flea/tick prevention right to your door. You will also get reminders sent right to your phone when it’s due so you never forget. And along with the membership is our 24/7 vet professional virtual chat to answer any questions or concerns you might have. 

Resources:

https://www.hillspet.com/pet-care/healthcare/flea-and-tick-treatments-oral-topical

https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=7955321

https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952474

https://www.pestworld.org/news-hub/pest-articles/interesting-tick-facts/

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