Caitlin UltimoFlea & Tick / Health

Bizarre Flea and Tick Facts

Bizarre Flea and Tick Facts

Fleas and ticks are not only repulsive; they are downright bizarre. If you’ve ever seen close-up images of these things, you’ve probably noticed that they look like they should be out in space rather than on this earth tormenting our pets.

“These parasites can spread many different diseases not only to animals, but also to people,” says Dr. Melissa Thompson, lead veterinarian at the Arizona Humane Society. “And once they latch onto your pet, they are very difficult to get rid of.”

To help give you get a better idea of what you’re up against in the battle of tick and flea control for cats and dogs, here are some strange facts that will either leave you scratching your head or running for the nearest tick and flea treatment.

They have amazing willpower.

Ticks stick to their hosts like glue—with glue. When ticks attach themselves to your dog, they secrete a gooey substance called cementum from their mouths. “This disgusting goo not only allows ticks to cling to their hosts, but it creates barbed feeding tubes they use to suck blood from their host, and this makes removing ticks difficult,” says Dr. Thompson.

Ticks are also difficult to detect because their saliva contains anti-inflammatory and anesthetic compounds that basically numb the skin, allowing ticks to sink their teeth into their host unnoticed. Fleas are just as sneaky. Their saliva actually dissolves the skin, making it easier for them to pierce the host’s capillaries and find blood.

To prevent tick and flea bites on dogs as well as tick and flea bites on cats, use topical or oral tick and flea treatments. Flea Away Natural Flea, Tick & Mosquito Repellent for Dogs & Cats is a tasty vitamin supplement that masks the smell of Co2, which attracts fleas to bite. It also stops ticks from getting engorged so they can be easily brushed off.

 They produce a lot of poop.

It’s hard enough to think about your dog with fleas and ticks, but to these parasites, your pet is also a public toilet. Ever notice those black specks in your pet’s fur or around a tick bite? Yup, that’s poop.

Fleas are gluttons and will eat far more than they need. As a result, they produce a lot of waste on your pet and in your carpet. But that’s not the worst part. Flea larvae actually eat adult flea feces—it’s their primary food source. Blech!

Tick droppings, while equally disgusting, are actually more dangerous because they contain bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, an illness that can be spread to people, Thompson says. That’s why it’s important to bathe your dog with a flea and tick shampoo. Richard’s Organics Flea & Tick Shampoo kills fleas and ticks on dogs with natural oils like peppermint and cedarwood that are also good for their skin and coat.

They can go months without a meal.

Fleas and ticks have incredible survival skills, which explains why they’ve been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth. One of the reasons these pests have such staying power is because both can live for long periods of time without eating. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a flea can live more than 100 days without a blood meal and ticks can go seven years, which means they’re not only persistent pests, but they are patient. That’s why it’s so important to treat your pet, your pet’s bedding and other areas your pet frequents with tick and flea sprays that kill on contact. Vet’s Best Flea + Tick Spray for Dogs kills fleas, flea eggs and ticks with natural ingredients that are safe for the entire family.

They have got to feed to breed.

One of the keys to their long-term success (remember, they outlived the dinosaurs), is their ability to reproduce rapidly. A female flea can lay about 50 eggs a day, according to the AVMA, but before it can even mate, it must have a meal. Once it has feasted on your pet, a female flea can lay eggs within 35 to 48 hours.

Ticks mate on their hosts, but before the female lays her eggs, it eats one last time, drinking about 200 times her body weight. Then it detaches, finds a moist, dark spot to lay its eggs and dies, leaving anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 new hungry ticks. To prevent them from latching onto your pet, treat your yard with tick and flea sprays. Advantage II Yard & Premise Spray eliminates fleas and ticks outdoors before they can infest your home.

Even parasites have parasites.

When fleas infest your pet and your home, they don’t come alone. They bring their own posse of parasites. In fact, a single flea can carry 150 mites that can transmit tapeworms, protozoa and bacteria to your pet and your entire family, according to the AVMA. While flea-to-human transmission is rare, it happens—sometimes with deadly consequences. Fleas are believed to have been responsible for the bubonic plague that killed millions of people across Asia and Europe during the Middle Ages. The World Health Organization still receives reports of plague in parts of East Africa, South America, Vietnam and China, even today. Other diseases these mites can spread to humans include typhus, tapeworms and Cat Scratch Disease, which can affect the brain, eyes, heart or other internal organs.

The best defense against these disgusting little monsters is a good offense, Thompson says. Treat your pet, your home and your yard with flea and tick shampoos, sprays and supplements.

Here are a few more weird flea and tick facts:

• A flea can jump 30,000 times without stopping, but they reverse direction with every jump

• Ticks were once used as a torture device by tribes in Turkestan

• In the 1600s, European royalty kept fleas as pets