Fleas are insects that are ubiquitous in the environment – meaning they can be found almost everywhere. There are more than 2000 species of fleas, but the common flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the one that mostly afflicts dogs and cats. Fleas are prevalent throughout the United States. They prefer warm, humid conditions, so infestations are typically worst during mid to late summer and early fall. Even during the cooler months, fleas can survive very well indoors once an infestation has been established. Fleas can also play a role in transmitting parasites, such as tapeworms, and bacterial diseases such as Cat Scratch Fever (Bartonella) to humans.
Ticks are not insects, but they are closely related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. Ticks are found in virtually every region of the United States. They are most prevalent in the early spring and late fall, although some species are well adapted to temperature extremes and can be found any time of year. In general, however, they prefer dark, moist, brushy places in which to lay their eggs. Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern with ticks is the number of serious diseases they can transmit such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can cause significant illness and even death in both pets and people. Therefore, it’s critical to protect your pets from these pesky parasites and keep the creepy crawlies out of your home.
Fortunately, there are many effective flea and tick preventives on the market. Knowing what kind of product to use, and how to use it, is critical to the health and safety of your pet. Many are spot-on (topical) products that are applied directly to your pet’s skin, but there are some new products that are given orally (by mouth). Although medicines and pesticides must meet U.S. government-required safety standards before they can be sold, it is still critical that pet owners carefully consider their flea and tick preventive options (and closely read the label) before they treat their pets with one of these products.
Our clients have been very happy with NexGard (afoxolaner). NexGard kills adult fleas before they lay eggs, and kills ticks, too! All in a delicious, beef-flavored soft chew that dogs love! No need to get your hands dirty with the topical products!
For any product you use, always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose. Most importantly, products labeled for dogs should never be used with cats.