When most pet owners think of the risks associated with parasites, they sometimes make the mistake of assuming it’s only a rural problem. In truth, parasites exist everywhere, including those peskiest of pests – fleas and ticks.

Flea and tick control is often given second stage to heartworm prevention, but these prolific little critters can wreck havoc on the health of pets and people. Keep reading to learn more about the perils of parasites and how you can better protect your pet.

Troublesome Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are endemic to every region across the country and can thrive even during the winter – particularly in temperate climates, such as ours.

A parasitic insect, the flea feeds on warm-blooded mammals and can cause a major infestation within the home – and it only takes a few. Capable of laying up to 50 eggs a day, Ctenocephalides felis (the “cat flea”) can cause a number of health problems, including tapeworms, anemia, and death (in extreme cases).

Ticks are also found in our region, including the Western blacklegged tick, which is responsible for Lyme disease. While areas rife with ticks tend to be eastern states, they can be found in the Bay area, as well as cases of subsequent Lyme disease.

Ticks, unlike fleas, are not insects but a type of arachnid (spider) which also feeds on mammals, including pets and humans. They, too, have a cyclical reproductive cycle and can lay thousands of eggs. Ticks carry many serious diseases, including Lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis.

Year-Round Flea and Tick Control to the Rescue

Although your skin may be crawling by now, there is promising news – it is possible to protect your pet (and family) through prevention.

Because many fleas and ticks find their way into the home by “hitching a ride” on the family pet, keeping all household pets (cats, dogs, and in some cases, small mammals) on a year-round preventive is key. By maintaining year-round flea and tick control, you’re less likely to experience an unfortunate infestation or health problem due to these pests.

In addition to a preventive, make your yard as inhospitable to parasites as possible by keeping all grasses trimmed and weeds pulled. Inspect your pet after each trip outdoors, especially in grassy or wooded areas, for the presence of ticks or other parasites. If you find a tick, make sure to carefully remove it right away.

There are a number of flea and tick products on the market, and some are not appropriate for certain pets (and can even be harmful). Consult your veterinarian to determine the best, safest solution for your furry friend. Although parasites are a part of life, they don’t have to pose health risks to you, your pet, or your family. Please give us a call with any questions or concerns.