Fleas and Ticks

Female flea

Fleas are a pesky external parasite that can cause severe itching, hair loss, secondary skin infection, and can also transmit disease. Adult fleas live primarily in the haircoat of various mammals, while the eggs, larvae, and pupae live in the environment - carpeting, upholstery, against baseboards, etc. Fleas are a year-round problem in Ringgold, as it doesn't get cold enough consistently enough to kill them - plus they really love to live in our homes!

 

An adult female flea living on a pet will lay eggs at a rate of 40-50 per day, and up to 2,000 in her lifetime. These eggs are not sticky, so they fall off the pet and into the environment. Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they move away from light - deep into carpeting, under baseboards, between the cracks in hardwood floors, and into the padding of furniture. They spend their time eating organic material until they spin a cocoon in order to pupate.

 

When an immature flea is cocooned, it is nearly impossible to kill. They can survive in this state for months, waiting for the opportune moment to emerge as an adult flea. They wait for three things to be present: 1) warmth 2) carbon dioxide 3) movement. These three factors indicate a warm-blooded mammal (also known as a food source) is near. Within moments, they break free from their cocoon and jump on the nearby host.

 

Adult fleas begin feeding within moments of finding a host, and females begin laying eggs 24 hours after their first blood meal.

 

The flea's saliva contains an anticoagulant, as well as a protein that can be very irritating to the skin. Pets with a flea allergy will often scratch themselves raw in reaction to the flea's saliva. Once the skin is broken, infection is common - which causes more irritation and itching. It becomes a vicious cycle that often requires antiobiotics and sometimes steriods to break.

 

There are several safe and effective methods of flea control available. Some are given by mouth, while others are a liquid applied to the skin. Veterinary-quality products are always the best bet, as many grocery store brands aren't as effective. By treating all of the pets in the home, we can usually eliminate the need to treat the house and yard, saving time and expense. We will be happy to discuss the various options with you and help you find the product that best fits your pet's lifestyle and your budget!

Mention the word "tick" and most people shudder. These eight-legged parasites can spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Babesia to not only our furry companions, but to humans as well. 

 

The life cycle of a tick is complex, taking up to two years to complete. Most tick species require three hosts, potentially transmitting disease from each one to subsequent hosts. They primarily live in dense vegetation - uncut grasses, wooded areas, brush and undergrowth are all favorite haunts.

 

Unlike fleas, ticks cannot jump. Like the tick you see in the above picture, they will grasp onto the tips of vegetation with their hind legs while stretching out their front legs in search of a passing host. Once on a host, they will attach themselves and begin feeding. The bite itself is usually not painful - in fact, most ticks go virtually unnoticed.

 

An adult female will feed for 8-12 days, engorging herself with blood and increasing her weight by more than 100 times. Mating occurs while still attached, then the female detaches and falls into the environment to lay her eggs. Some species of ticks lay up to 6,000 eggs at a time!

 

There are many tick products on the market. Most are in the form of a liquid applied to the skin, though there are also collars available. 

Dr. Gerard Clarke

Small Animal Medicine & Surgery

by Appointment

6999 Nashville Street

Ringgold, GA 30736

 

Ph: (706) 937-7387

Monday 8:30a-5:30p

Tuesday  8:30a-5:30p

Wednesday CLOSED

Thursday  8:30a-5:30p

Friday  8:30a-5:30p

Saturday  8:30a-1:30p

Sunday CLOSED 

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