How To Protect Your Pet From Fleas And Ticks
A cat or dog with fleas or ticks in their fur is an uncomfortable and irritated pet. But did you know that these infestations can lead to more serious health problems for both your pet and your family? Some animals – and people – can suffer allergic reactions to flea saliva, causing rashes. Sometimes, fleas and ticks can transmit disease.
One of the best ways to detect fleas or ticks is to inspect your pet regularly, especially after an outing or contact with other animals. Here’s what to look for:
• Fleas are small insects (one to four millimeters long) with dark brown or reddish brown flattened bodies. Look for black particles the size of milled pepper on your pet’s skin near the tail on the back of your dog or cat.
• Ticks feed on the blood of animals, including humans. They have four pairs of legs and can be easily seen, especially when they are feeding.
If you find a flea infestation or a tick on your pet, the first step is manual removal:
• For fleas, use a flea comb and focus on where fleas are most likely to gather; usually the neck, tail or belly of your pet. Flea combs allow hair to pass through the tines, but not the fleas, and remove fleas, flea feces and dried blood. Deposit any fleas you catch in hot soapy water to kill them.
• Ticks need to be removed carefully. Wear disposable gloves and grasp the tick with a pair of fine tweezers as close to the skin as possible, with the tweezers held at a right angle to the tick’s body. Gently but firmly, pull the tick up and away from the host’s skin. Avoid twisting or turning the tick during removal. To kill a tick, you can freeze it, or submerge it in rubbing alcohol. Afterwards, throw out the gloves and wash your hands and the tweezers thoroughly. When appropriate, disinfect the site where the tick was feeding.
If you suspect Lyme disease and wish to send the tick for laboratory testing, contact your local provincial public health authority to find out where it should be sent. Advice on how to handle, package, and ship ticks is available from the Public Health Agency of Canada at: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca, under Infectious Diseases.
To protect against fleas and ticks, many pet owners use products that are designed for skin contact with pets, such as spot treatments, shampoos, sprays or collars. These products have been proven effective, however it is extremely important to read and follow all of the label directions for the safety of your pet and family.
If you plan to use a flea or tick control product on your pet:
• Check with your veterinarian for advice if you’re unsure about which product to use. If your pet is elderly, pregnant or nursing, sick or on medication, it may have additional sensitivity to flea and tick control products.
• Tell your vet if your pets are in regular close contact with young children.
• Make sure to always read the product label and closely follow the instructions, which can change over time.
• Use the product only on the animal specified on the product label: dog products should only be used on dogs, cat products only on cats.
• Apply only the amount indicated for the size and weight of your pet – too little could be ineffective and too much could be harmful.
• Observe your pet closely during and after treatment, especially the first time that you use a flea and tick control product. Signs of an adverse reaction can include skin irritation. Seizures are a sign of a more serious reaction.
• Contact a veterinarian if you notice your pet experiencing an adverse effect. It is important to report any adverse effects to the manufacturer listed on the product label. Manufacturers are required by law to report incidents to Health Canada. You may also report incidents to Health Canada.
More information, including a video on how to properly apply pet protection products, is available at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/video/flea-tick-antipuces-antitiques-eng.php. You can also contact Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency at 1-800-267-6315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.