Vet Blog

How Fleas and Ticks Can Affect Your Pet | Fort Walton Beach, FL

May 30, 2019

The thought of fleas and ticks can be enough to make our own skin crawl, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dealing with the effects that fleas and ticks can have on our pets. To say that the symptoms associated with these parasites are unpleasant is an understatement, and as loving and compassionate owners, we want to ensure that our furry family members don't suffer unnecessarily.

Many people mistakenly think that preventative veterinary care is a waste of time and money. However, when you fully understand just how fleas and ticks can affect our beloved animals, you will soon realize how important it is to invest in the appropriate preventatives for your precious pet.

So, How Can Fleas and Ticks Affect Your Pet?

There are numerous unpleasant ways in which fleas and ticks can affect your pet including some significant threats to her health and wellbeing. These include:

Relentless itching

Easily the most miserable part of any flea infestation is the relentless itching that they cause. The more fleas your pet has, the more irritating they will be and the more she will scratch at her skin to relieve the irritation. However, if your pet also has a flea allergy, the symptoms are even worse. It can take just one bite to trigger an autoimmune response so significant that it causes your furbaby to be able to think about nothing other than scratching and will even bite, chew and gnaw on her skin to try and obtain relief.

Skin problems and hair loss

All that scratching inevitably leads to skin problems. Broken, red and inflamed skin is common, and it is easy for any wounds to become infected. They may appear hot to the touch, be oozing with pus or smell bad. Your pet may also have scratched so much that she experiences hair loss in parts of her coat - particularly around the hindquarters.

Internal infections

Swallowing fleas isn't something that many owners think about but is something that is easily done by pets with infestations. If your furbaby accidentally ingests a flea, she could be at risk of developing tapeworm - a type of internal parasite that is transmitted by some fleas.

Other diseases

Fleas and ticks are capable of transmitting infectious diseases to our beloved animals. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell if a tick is a carrier just by looking at it and fleas are near impossible to see anyway. This means that it is recommended that you protect your pet against all fleas and ticks at all times. Some of the diseases that they can potentially transmit to your pet include the following:

  • Lyme disease
  • Cat scratch fever
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Babesiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Ehrlichiosis

Tick paralysis

Although uncommon, tick paralysis is a condition that occurs as a result of a toxin that is present in a ticks' saliva. This is passed to your pet when the tick feeds and can affect her central nervous system. If treatment isn't sought, paralysis could spread throughout her body, eventually affecting her diaphragm and stopping her from breathing.

Flea and Tick Prevention

You'll be pleased to know that flea and tick prevention is more widely available than ever before. There are countless products and treatments that can repel these pesky parasites from your pet and your home, keeping your furbaby safe and your property clean and free from bugs.

Preventatives fall into several categories. These are:

  • topical, which are placed onto your pet's skin and absorbed into her blood.
  • oral, which are chewable tablets that your pet swallows with his food.
  • injectable, which as you might guess are administered like a vaccination. Currently, only tick preventatives can be injected.

It is important to pick a preventative based on your pet's species and size so that she receives a suitable-size dose to be properly protected. It is also essential to note how long your chosen preventative is effective for so that you can schedule further doses in advance. Being just a day or two late with your chosen preventative could make it possible for your pet to catch fleas or be affected by a tick.

It is equally as important to use flea and tick preventatives on your home and again, there are many different products to choose from that can be used in and around your property, along with a robust cleaning routine, to help reduce the likelihood that these parasites will make it into your home or survive once inside.

If you have any further questions about how fleas and ticks can affect your pet, or if you would like to arrange an appointment so that your pet can receive proper preventative care, please contact the Friendship Veterinary Hospital in Fort Walton Beach, FL, and call (850) 810-0700 today.