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Busting Myths About Tick and Flea Season

A candid image of the family pet mongrel dog. He is scratching his chin with his hind leg. This can be a sign a dog has parasites such as fleas or ticks. Dogs routinely pick them up on walks and it is vital for owners to regularly give them prevention and cure treatment. Image taken in Ko Lanta, Krabi, Thailand.

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Fleas and ticks have been around for a very long time. And over that time, many myths have cropped up. So many, in fact, that many pet parents don’t know the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to controlling fleas and ticks on dogs and cats.

Test your knowledge here. Take a look at these five common myths of “tick and flea season,” and learn the truth about how to deal with fleas and ticks on dogs and cats.

Myth 1: Only a few fleas aren’t a problem.

Woman combing cute cat with brush on couch, close up.

iStock.com/PredragImages

The truth is, if you see even one flea on your cat or dog, you’ve got a flea problem.

“Think of one or two as the scouts,” says Rebecca Williams, DVM, with Chino Hills Animal Hospital in Chino Hills, California. “If you have one or two, you most likely have many. And if you don’t already have an issue, these little guys are warning you of what is to come.”

One way to detect fleas on your pets is by running a cat or dog flea comb through their fur. If you notice fleas on your dog or cat, act fast. Capstar flea tablets are formulated to treat flea infestations fast, and can start killing fleas within 30 minutes.

If you see your dog or cat scratching or biting his body frequently, it could signal a flea problem as well.

Myth 2: Fleas and ticks don’t bite people.

Woman pets Bengal cat

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While fleas and ticks prefer cats, dogs and other mammals with fur, they most certainly will bite people. In homes with a severe flea infestation, people often develop itchy bites, mostly on their legs.

Invest in a spray for your pet and home, like Vet’s Best Flea + Tick Home Spray, to help fight fleas, flea eggs and ticks on contact. Vet’s Best spray is formulated to remove these pesty home invaders from furniture, carpet and bedding, as well as to keep them away from you and your pet.

In your yard, ticks will latch on to humans who brush past almost as easily as they will latch on to a dog or cat. If you see a tick on your pet, there’s a good chance you have ticks in your yard that are more than willing to attach on to you.

While itchy flea bites can drive you crazy, tick bites can be downright dangerous. Certain tick species, such as deer ticks, carry Lyme disease, which can cause serious illness in humans.

Invest in an outdoor spray, like Advantage Yard & Premise Spray, which is formulated to kill fleas and ticks, including deer ticks, on contact to keep them from clinging on to you or your four-legged family members and entering your home.

Myth 3: City pets don’t need flea and tick prevention.

Woman walking with dog in London, Notting Hill.

iStock.com/LeoPatrizi

People tend to associate fleas and ticks on dogs and cats with country life, but these pests are everywhere, even in the concrete jungle.

“Fleas are equal-opportunity parasites and can set up anywhere, including urban areas,” Dr. Williams says. “They might even be more of an issue as you and your pet are their only source of a meal.”

Ticks, on the other hand, prefer to populate and cling to tall grass areas. If your dog brushes up against plants on a walk through the city, he easily can pick up a hitchhiking tick.

Myth 4: Fleas die off during winter.

Cat sitting on lap in front of fireplace

iStock.com/nambitomo

Fleas perishing in cold weather is a solid case of wishful thinking. While most insects don’t make it through a cold winter, fleas have an alternative to staying outdoors.

“Fleas can’t survive a hard freeze, so they move inside with your pet,” Dr. Williams says. “They are perfectly happy to set up house in your home, and you will barely notice the eggs and larva. When the adults begin to feed, [then] you will know.”

Fleas also will take up residence in warmer areas of your property during the winter, according to Dr. Williams, who says fleas also love straw and sawdust in sheds and barns. The bottom line is that if you had a flea problem during the summer or fall, then you still need to treat your pets in the winter.

An easy way to keep your pets protected is with a Seresto 8-month prevention collar. This water-resistant collar helps prevent infestation by repelling fleas and ticks and can be used year-round.

Myth 5: Fleas only live in carpet.

Dog lying on hardwood floor

iStock.com/igorr1

The notion that fleas only take up residence in carpeted homes is false. Although fleas love to burrow into carpet, they don’t require it to set up shop.

The microscopic eggs laid on your pet will fall off the animal and land on the floor, getting caught in wood cracks, pitted areas of tile or in carpet fibers. Once the larvae hatch, they mature into jumping, biting fleas.

So, no matter what kind of floor you have, make a point of treating your pets for fleas. You can do this by using topical flea and tick treatments. There are many on the market, and they are formulated for specific species and sizes. For example, Onguard flea and tick treatment for cats is formulated for cats and kittens over 1.5 pounds, and K9 Advantix II flea, tick and mosquito prevention for extra large dogs is formulated for dogs over 55 pounds. You’ll need to make sure you use the correct one for your type of pet and pet’s size.

Contact your veterinarian to learn more about prescription flea and tick control and what would work best for your pet.


By: Audrey Pavia

Featured Image: Via iStock/Placebo365