Fleas & Ticks, Oh My

by Sep 1, 2019

Year-Round Concern For Pets

Fleas & Ticks Carry Diseases

This category may be unsettling for some but it’s an important one to discuss. Fleas and ticks carry several diseases. In California right now they have a resurgence of Typhus,  a disease caused by bacteria found in infected fleas that can come from cats, rats, opossums and other stray animals.

Where Fleas & Ticks Thrive

Accumulation of trash or overcrowding and poor hygiene is typically associated with the spread of the disease. There is even a tick, the lone star tick which is in East, Southeast, and Midwest United States which if bitten can cause you to have a severe anaphylactic reaction to red meat.

40 Species of Ticks

There are about 40 species of ticks according to CDC. In the Northeast where I live we have 5 specific ones but those numbers are changing due to animal migration. This means ticks should be a year round treatment and not just the summer.

Ticks should be a year round treatment and not just the summer

In our animals, we see diseases such as Cat Scratch Fever, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis spread. These diseases can have serious, if not life threatening, consequences.

Tick disease is usually transmitted to the host after being attached for 24 hours. Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide which we exhale. They can remain attached for several days and often times go unnoticed.

These diseases can have serious, if not life threatening, consequences …
Fleas can cause an infestation in as little as 3 weeks. For every adult, there are around 100 immature stages hidden in the environment.  Fleas are highly reproductive. A female flea lays about 25 eggs per day. The average female can live about 7 days. Eggs reach adulthood in 17 to 26 days. So within a month, you could have a lot of fleas. I know this gets everyone scratching and looking around. The best advice is not treatment but prevention.

The best advice is not treatment, but prevention …
There are several categories to discuss of flea and tick prevention and not everyone will agree with me and that’s your choice. This is my advice and opinions that I have based on research, clinical studies and 23 years of experience.

Prevention – Are Topicals Effective?

Topical Products

These products include Frontline, Advantage and Bravecto and they are typically applied to back of neck and can last for 4 weeks up to 12 weeks, depending on product. There are numerous others on the market, but these are the most popular.

Topical Effectiveness

There has been discussion as to how effective these products currently are, but more so Frontline and Advantage. They can take up to 24 hours to kill ticks, and once a pet is infested it will be very hard to get the environment under control. The thought is that there may be flea resistance to some of these current tropical applied products.

There has been discussion as to how effective topicals currently are …

Prevention – Are Collars Effective?

Seresto by Bayer and Scalibor by Merck are examples of collars they are very effective but do need to be placed snuggly against the neck to be effective. They also take 24 hours to kill fleas and ticks.

Collars are very effective …

Prevention – Are Orals Effective?

Bravecto by Merck,  Negard by Merial, and Simparica by Zoetis are oral products and have a similar form of action. They are typically monthly except Bravecto which lasts 12 weeks. These products have a label to be used with caution with a history of seizures. However, these orals tend to kill fleas and ticks much quicker than the other products. Often before disease transmission can occur.

Orals tend to kill fleas and ticks much quicker than topicals and collars …
All these products have been approved by the FDA and have been subjected to safety testing, that is not to say that some animals may have a reaction to any product and people should follow the advice of their veterinarian as to which product is best for them.

Take-Home Message

The take-home message is to use something as a flea and tick preventative. Ticks and fleas spread horrible diseases that can be difficult to diagnose and take a long time to treat.

Most natural products unfortunately do not work with any consistent reliability.

VET TALK

Monthly Vet Tips
Dr. Stacey Kilcullen DVM

photo of veterinarian stacey kilcullen in her white professional outfit holding maltese

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