Is Flea and Tick Prevention Important in La Porte, TX?
The short answer is yes! Fleas and ticks love warm humid weather, making them a persistent presence in La Porte, TX! Flea and tick prevention is an essential part of your pet’s health care plan as these pests can cause not only irritation but can transmit disease too! Some of these diseases can be passed to your human family, as well as your pet, adding another level of danger to these critters! Yet, with consistent prevention, all these hazards can be avoided! Find out more about fleas and ticks and what you can do to keep your whole family safe.
What is the Difference Between Fleas and Ticks?
Fleas and ticks share many similarities: they feast on the blood of their host, they can transmit diseases to both pets and people, and both are found throughout North America. Yet, there are some inherent differences between fleas and ticks.
Fleas not only feed on their hosts but live on them, too. These critters take quick bites and can cause irritation and even dermatitis, a more severe skin reaction, to pets who are allergic to flea bites. With a severe infestation, fleas can cause anemia (particularly in very young or very old pets), which can lead to death if left untreated. Furthermore, fleas can transmit a number of diseases to their hosts including Bartonella (cat scratch disease), typhus, and even tapeworm larvae.
Once your pet is infested with fleas, it can be difficult to get rid of them. Female fleas can lay between 40 and 50 eggs a day and they live for about 2-3 months, meaning the number of fleas on your pet and in your home can increase rapidly. Even if you kill all the fleas living on your pet, there could still be flea eggs waiting to emerge in your pet’s bedding, your carpet, on your couch, and anywhere else your pet likes to lie around! With consistent flea prevention and some extra cleaning, you can usually eradicate a mild flea infestation. With more severe infestations, however, it may be necessary to call in a professional.
Recognizing fleas on your pet isn’t too difficult. You’ll probably notice your pet scratching themselves more than normal, and may see some hair loss, particularly at the base of the tail. To be sure it’s fleas and not an allergy, use a flea comb to pull up any flea droppings which will appear as tiny reddish-black specks. Soaking them on a wet paper towel should turn them red. If you think your pet has fleas, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice on how to get rid of them!
Ticks are arachnids with eight legs like a spider, rather than six like most insects. These critters find their hosts through “questing” which means they camp out on grass blades, low leaves, or stems along well-worn paths, waiting for a host to pass by. When a host brushes against the tick’s resting place, the tick can easily attach, and will then scurry toward a proper bite site. Once the tick bites, it will stay feeding on its host until it is fully engorged, which can take days. During this prolonged feeding, the tick may transmit diseases to its host, including:
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- And more
It’s important to realize that it takes several hours of attachment for any of these diseases to be transmitted to the tick’s host, so as long as you catch a tick quickly, the rate of infection is relatively low.
Also, keep in mind that different tick species transmit different diseases. In our area of La Porte, TX, the most prevalent tick species include:
- Lone star tick – transmits: ehrlichiosis, rickettsiosis, tularemia, and southern tick-associated rash illness (STAR)
- Black-legged deer tick – transmits: Lyme disease and anaplasmosis
- American dog tick – transmits: Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia
- Brown dog tick – transmits: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Ticks are primarily found in wooded areas, yet they can be as close to home as your backyard! To prevent tick bites, be sure to stick to the trail and walk in the center of the path to avoid brushing up against any grasses or leaves. Wear long pants and tall socks to protect your legs, and wear light-colored clothing so you can easily see any ticks that have hitched a ridge. And finally, check your pet frequently for ticks while out hiking, and always make sure to check them whenever they come in from the outdoors!
How to Remove a Tick from Your Pet
If your pet does get a tick on them, remove it as soon as possible. Here’s how:
- Cover your hands with gloves or something like a tissue or paper towel to avoid touching the tick directly.
- Use thin tweezers to grasp the tick from the side, by its head, as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull straight up in a gentle but firm manner. Do not twist!
- Place the tick in a plastic baggie or other sealed container for identification by your veterinarian.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and clean the bite site to prevent any secondary infections.
- Be sure to watch the bite site closely over the next few days for signs of inflammation or infection.
After your pet is bitten by a tick, play it safe by watching them closely for symptoms of a tick-borne disease. While each disease will have different symptoms, many of them share some common ones including:
- Loss of appetite
- Swelled lymph nodes
- Joint swelling or pain
What Do Vets Recommend for Fleas and Ticks in La Porte, TX?
The most important treatment for fleas and ticks is preventing them in the first place! Veterinarians in La Porte, TX often recommend year-round flea and tick prevention, even if you live in a colder climate. This is because fleas can often live in the warm comfort of your home through the winter, while ticks can be active in weather as cold as 35 degrees Fahrenheit! Flea and tick preventatives usually come in monthly chewable tablets or topical solutions, but there are a few, such as Bravecto or a Seresto collar that can provide protection for longer. It’s important you talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s flea and tick prevention options. These medications can only be bought with a veterinarian’s prescription. Those that can be bought from online pharmacies without a prescription could be ineffective at best, or harmful to your pet, at worst. Purchasing medications directly from your veterinarian is the safest bet!
In addition to preventatives, your vet may also recommend the Lyme disease vaccine for dogs who are at a high risk of encountering ticks. This includes dogs who often hike and are outdoors with their owners or those who travel to areas of the country with high incidences of Lyme disease (such as New England). Talk to your vet today to see if your pup is eligible for this extra layer of protection!