Springtime Flea Prevention

Spring is in the air again. The birds are singing. The rain is falling. The flowers are blooming, and – if you own a dog or a cat – flea and tick season is in full effect. These pests can make the summer months a pain in the neck – and the wallet – for beleaguered pet owners. But, if it’s a bad time of year for you, imagine how your fuzzy companion feels? Luckily, for every problem there is a solution, and with a little education, this is a battle you can win. What’s the first step? Know your enemy!
The life cycle of fleas includes four separate stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The life cycle can last from as little as two weeks up to a full year. Fleas prefer humidity and high temperatures. For this reason, their numbers tend to expand during the warm summer months.
Fleas are wingless, parasitic insects. These vampiric little guys live off of the nutrients they find in the blood of any number of mammals and birds. Clearly, any encounter with a flea is bound to bother you pet, but a certain kind of allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva can lead to irritation, rash, and a significant loss of fur from excessive itching, scratching and biting at the infected area. This reaction is called ‘flea allergy dermatitis.’ These irritated sore spots are prime targets for secondary infections, complicating an already messy problem. Even if your pet isn’t prone to this irritation, fleas can also carry Lyme disease and tapeworms.
Ticks are also parasites, but they infect every class of terrestrial vertebrate from mammals and birds, to reptiles and amphibians. Unlike fleas, ticks are not insects. From the class Arachnidia, the tick is more closely related to the spider, and the scorpion than it is to the ant. Despite their numbers – and number of possible hosts – there are only a few varieties of ticks should worry people and their pets. If you live in an area that is populated with ticks, you must take precautions for you and your family. Ticks can transmit serious diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to pets and owners alike.
The first step in protecting your family and your pets from fleas and ticks is some solid research – so far so good – and the advice of your veterinarian. Make sure you inform your vet about the kind of neighborhood you live in. Are you an apartment dweller in the city, or do you make your homestead on a wooded country road? Your location as well as your pet’s habits and characteristics will help determine the level of protection your furry friend will require.
In order to prevent fleas and ticks from becoming a problem in the first place, your vet will probably recommend a prevention product like K9 Advantix. Products like Advantix – or the Dog or Cat versions of Advantage – are topical flea treatments that are used just once a month. They stop fleas from biting in less than five minutes, and can kill 98 to 100 percent of the fleas on pets within 12 hours. These products will keep on fighting fleas for a full 30 days. Applied before the start of flea season, these products can keep your dog from becoming infested in the first place. Used year-round, it prevents fleas from wintering in your home.
When you are first learning the ugly truth about fleas and ticks it can seem like a horror movie: blood-sucking monsters attacking my pets? Of course, it’s not quite that serious. With a little common sense, the advice of your vet, and a proven product that deliver results, it looks like this is shaping up to be a great summer!

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