How to Remove Fleas and Ticks

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Bonnie J. Willhite, MD

So not only can fleas and ticks just be a menace to our poor little pets, because their bites are very irritating. But in addition to that, I really try to emphasize to my clients how important it is to understand that fleas and ticks are vectors or carriers for blood diseases.

It’s a kinder, gentler age now in veterinary medicine and for pet owners for flea and tick management, because there are a lot of different products available.

There’s topical spot-ons that are wonderful because they typically last four weeks depending on the environment and your flea or tick burden.

There are several oral medication options for flea prevention and they can treat existing infections and also or infestations and also prevent future infestations. Some of them are short acting, 24 hours, some of them last closer to 4 weeks.

Sometimes I recommend that my clients do combination therapy. Especially if they have a flea allergic pet, where they’re using a topical product and an oral product concurrently to maximize the benefits of both of those products to get the most effective flea and tick control that they can get.

Flea shampoos at home or have commonly used in the past, the problems is they’re labor intensive and they’re very, very short term. So, I encourage my clients to just pick up the phone and call me, because I have so many other options that are much quicker and more effective than flea baths.

A flea dip is a relatively short term way to address a flea infestation. It’s quick, thus the name dip. You just simply dip them in the chemical substance that’s an insecticide. And it lasts about 7-14 days, but if the pet gets wet, it’s immediately washed off.

There are flea collars available. There are some basic flea collars that can be purchased over the counter, but there’s also some new high tech flea and tick collars that are out there and they work for fleas and ticks and they have a very different technology.

They don’t work by contacting your pet’s skin. They’re actually loose fit and have more of a sustained release, creating, for lack of a better term, sort of a force field around your pet to protect them from fleas and ticks even attaching.

I find the best way to remove a tick is to dab alcohol on the area first, to sort of loosen the glue that has been applied by the tick, so they can stay attached. Then grab the tick right at the base of where it attaches to the skin with a small pair of tweezers and gently, slowly pull.

Because I want you to remove the mouth parts that are embedded in the skin and in that process, you’re going to take a tiny little piece of the top layer of the pet’s skin with it. But, you’re not going to leave any mouth parts behind.

One other thing I always emphasize with my clients, is you can do everything you can to treat the fleas and ticks on your pet. But until you address what’s in the environment, you are missing 90% of the picture.

So don’t forget that you can do sprays and powders and treatments for your house, for your carpet, for your bedding, and your soft surfaces. You can launder your pet’s bedding in very hot water, to kill the eggs that are existing on your pet’s bed.

So don’t forget, just good environmental control and consistent therapy for prevention of fleas and ticks can make the world of difference for us and our pets.