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As heater weather approaches, it is time to begin protecting your pet from fleas and ticks. Taking a proactive approach to keeping them safe prior to flea and tick season is critical to ensuring you don’t face infestations once the season is in full swing. There are many ways to prepare to keep these pests at bay so you and your pet may enjoy the season.

Understanding the harmfuls
Other than being a nuisance and causing itching, it’s important to understand why fleas and ticks are so harmful to your furbaby. They often carry and spread a variety of health issues that may make your pet ill. Following are the most common health issues caused and spread by fleas and ticks, most of which may result in extreme sickness or even gone.

Lyme health issue
This is the most common of illnesses and is spread through the bite of an infected deer tick. Symptoms of Lyme health issue in dogs include lameness, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain. All it takes is for your pet to get bitten by just one tick carrying Lyme health issue to pass it onto your dog or cat.

Rocky peak Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Rocky peak spotted fever is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii and is spread by dog ticks, wood ticks, and lone star ticks. Symptoms of Rocky peak spotted fever include fever, loss of appetite, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.

Ehrlichiosis
Ehrlichiosis is another tick-borne illness seen in dogs caused by the bacterium Ehrliichia canis. This health issue can cause anemia, joint pain, coughing, and lethargy.

Anaplasmosis
Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Symptoms of this health issue include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting.

Cat Scratch health issue
Bartonella henselae are bacteria usually spread through fleas and can cause skin infections in cats. The most common symptom is ulcerated lesions or sores on the skin. These bacteria are transmittable from felines to humans via a scratch contaminated with flea stool.

Preparing for Flea & Tick Season
Prevention is key in keeping your animal safe during spring, summer and fall, when fleas and ticks are most active. While there are many treatments on the market, keep in mind that none are 100 percent effective.

Vaccines
When it comes to protecting your pet from fleas and ticks during the heater months, it is important to make sure they have the necessary vaccinations and medications. Most likely, your vet will recommend a treatment to protect your pet from a combination of fleas, ticks, and heartworm.

Treatments
There are many different types of flea and tick treatments available on the market. Keep in mind, most contain pesticides. For example, spot-on treatments typically contain permethrin, which is a synthetic chemical insecticide designed to spread from the back of the neck where the treatment gets administered, throughout the pet’s skin surface until the entire body is covered. The type of treatment you use will depend on the size and age of your pet, and how prevalent pests are where you live. Here is a list of pesticidal-type of treatments:

  • Spot-on applications
  • Collars
  • Chewables
  • Shampoos
  • Sprays
  • Dips
  • Powders

Chemical Insecticidal Repelling Shampoos and Sprays

Flea and tick repellants are an essential part of pet care during flea and tick season. Shampoos and sprays containing pesticides may help provide your pet with immediate protection against pests. It is important to use a shampoo or spray that is specifically formulated for use on either a cat or dog since products are designed to work on different kinds of animals. Some products may be used on both. When applying the flea spray, make sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully. It is also important to take extra precautions when spraying around children or other family members, as some flea sprays may be harmful if ingested or inhaled. Make sure that everyone is in a safe location when spraying and that any residual spray is cleaned up immediately.

Natural Repelling Shampoos and Sprays

Most veterinarians are not familiar with natural products, as this is not part of their training. However, organic flea and tick treatments are becoming increasingly popular because they don’t present safety concerns for pets, children, and other household members. What also is attractive about natural repellents is many are equally as effective as their chemical-pesticide opposites.

Natural and organic shampoos and sprays that are highly effective without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

Repelling formulations that are 100% natural may include such plants and minerals as rosemary, ginger, witch hazel, ginger, apple cider vinegar, jojoba, lavender, aloe vera, black pepper, and colloidal silver. Essential oils also are highly effective repellents but should never be used directly and only present a fraction of a formulation. PawPurity’s top essential oil picks are cedarwood, rosemary, and lemongrass.

Infestations are particularly hard on senior dogs and cats that already need special care because the only way to get rid of pests at this advanced stage is by using insecticides. With an already-weakened immune system, it’s wisest to do due diligence in repelling fleas and ticks rather than treating infestations.

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