They say prevention is the best cure. And when it comes to flea and tick treatment for dogs and cats, that’s definitely true. Because fleas and ticks aren’t just uncomfortable and unsightly, they can also be dangerous for pets.
With both ticks and fleas being common in Australia, Aussie dog and cat owners have to take precautions to protect their furkids. Why? They can cause serious or even life-threatening health problems for your fur kid.
Here’s how to stay on top of them.
Flea or tick problems in pets – bad news
Flea and tick prevention in dogs and cats is an important facet of routine care for Aussie pet owners because these pests can cause real problems for your pet.
If yours has a flea or tick problem, they’ll likely display some symptoms though these may be subtle at first. Keeping a close eye means you can administer the right flea and tick treatment for dogs or cats before any symptoms get out of hand.
Here’s what to look out for.
Dangers of fleas for dogs and cats
Fleas might seem like a nuisance, though not a real problem, yet fleas can cause some serious health issues.
We all know about the itching and scratching associated with fleas in dogs and cats, but they can also cause more serious skin conditions like allergic dermatitis. Nobody wants to see their pet scratching, licking their paws, and coming up covered in red and inflamed patches.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, fleas can actually cause anaemia in pets. This is due to blood loss from the fleas. You may be surprised to hear flea anaemia can even be fatal – especially if you have an elderly pet, a young pet, or one with a compromised immune system.
And though fleas worsen in summer, they’re an all-year problem. Flea eggs are often found in carpets, furniture, and other household areas. When the weather gets warm, they hatch and start latching on to dogs, cats and other animals. And on to humans too. Gross!
Dangers of ticks for our pets
In Australia, ticks are a major problem. Arguably, they’re even more problematic than fleas. And though fleas can cause fatal diseases on rare occasions, it’s more common with ticks. Tick bites can be life-threatening in more than one way.
Most people know about biliary, or tick bite fever. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest risks of your dog or cat encountering ticks… but tick paralysis is also a real threat, and so is ehrlichiosis.
Common ticks found in Australia are the paralysis tick, brown dog tick, cattle tick, and bush tick. If pet often spends time in the bush or in areas with long grass, make sure you regularly check them for ticks.
If you find one, take it off (read our article on how to remove a tick properly) and seriously consider seeking veterinary attention. Hundreds of dogs and cats die every year from a tick bite and thousands more end up ill.
Symptoms of flea and tick problems in dogs and cats
Flea and tick treatment for dogs and cats should be part of your routine pet care. But you should also recognise the signs of a tick or flea problem, so you can take extra steps (like a trip to the vet!) if needed.
Here are some symptoms of fleas in dogs and cats:
- Loss of hair
- Scratching, biting, or licking
- Skin infections
- Ear infections
- “Flea dirt”
And here are some signs your dog or cat might have a tick problem:
- Licking or chewing at a specific area
- A lump (especially on pets with long coats)
- Head shaking
- Finding a tick in the home
Some of these signs can be very subtle, so it’s good practice to check your pet for ticks and fleas regularly.
Options for flea and tick treatment for dogs and cats
There is a wide variety of treatments available. Often, they’re combined treatments to prevent both ticks and fleas. These are normally available as either tablets to be given to your pet, or as liquids which are applied topically. Some of the better-known options include Bravecto, NexGard, and Frontline.
Using regular flea and tick treatment for your dogs and cats is key to preventing illness, discomfort, and inconvenience from these parasites. The right choice for you will depend on a few factors.
Some pets have no issues eating tablets, but those who are wary of treats might prefer a liquid treatment on the back of their neck. It’s important you administer the correct dosage for your cat’s/dog’s size and weight. This is especially important if you have quite a young pet.
You’ll probably need to use a flea and tick treatment for dogs and cats very three to six months. If you have any doubts, talk to your vet about an appropriate treatment.
Other preventative flea and tick treatments for dogs and cats
On top of pills and topical treatments, there are a few things you can do to manage your pet’s exposure to fleas and ticks.
When it comes to fleas, baths and sprays are effective at killing adult fleas but don’t kill flea eggs. So while they need to be combined with a topical or oral treatment, the sprays and baths can provide some relief. If you suspect fleas are invading your home, it’s also recommended that you spray your pet’s bedding as well as your furnishings, and wash all your (human) bedding.
As far as ticks go, here are some steps you can take to limit your risk:
- Avoid walking in long grassy areas.
- Wear suitable clothes if you’re visiting an area with ticks. If a tick latches on to you, you could bring it home and put your pets and other people at risk.
- Keep your grass short and tidy if you have a garden.
Remember, your dog or cat can still be bitten by ticks or fleas even if you take these steps. So be sure to keep up with those regular treatments, and get into the habit of checking th\em for ticks and fleas thoroughly on a regular basis.
Pet insurance for ticks, fleas, and more
While prevention is better than cure, sometimes medical treatment is a necessity.
If one thing’s certain, it’s that your pet will need a vet trip at some point. Whether they’re exhibiting signs of tick bite fever, need some routine shots, or they’ve accidentally swallowed a piece of goodness knows what, there’s a pet insurance policy to suit your needs.