Although fleas and ticks can survive in any kind of weather, their numbers become much more prevalent in the spring. If you don’t already practice year-round flea and tick prevention, now is the time to start. As the parasites become more abundant with the higher temperatures, it’s important to know the symptoms of flea and tick infestation so you can seek immediate treatment for your pet.

What Are Fleas?
The wingless flea can live anywhere from two weeks to 12 months. They are so tiny that people typically can’t see them. Even so, they can jump up to two feet and they require a living host such as your pet to survive and to reproduce. Your dog or cat may have fleas if you notice any of the following:
  • Allergies
  • Biting, scratching, or licking more than usual
  • Droppings that look like tiny white eggs or grains of sand embedded in your pet’s fur
  • Hot spots and scabs
  • Loss of fur
  • Pale gums
  • Tapeworm present in the feces
Unfortunately, pets are not the only carriers of fleas. They can enter your home on a person when they attach to his or her body, clothes, or shoes. After jumping off the person, fleas search for warm places to burrow in your furniture, bedding, and carpet. If you suspect fleas in your home, wash your pet’s bedding and any other surface they might have touched in hot water to kill them. You should also vacuum your carpets and furniture. 

Fleas reproduce almost continually once they find a living host. Since they can consume blood volume that’s up to 15 times their own body weight, your pet could develop anemia due to the blood loss. Pets who already have allergies could develop a serious complication known as allergic flea dermatitis as well. 

Ticks Can Be Deadly
A tick is a blood-sucking parasite that most often attaches itself to the ears, feet, head, or neck of an animal host. Because they live in grass, on trees, and in tall bushes, it’s easy for them to jump and land on your pet’s body without you being aware of it. Even pets who don’t normally go outside aren’t completely safe from ticks since they can get into the house on another pet or on a person’s body.

A dog or cat who has received a tick bite often doesn’t show signs of it for quite some time. Additionally, you can’t usually see the tick until it has become fully engorged with blood from your pet. During this incubation period, your pet could develop Lyme disease, tick paralysis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. We strongly recommend that you check your pet’s body daily by running your hands from head to tail as well as the underside every day.
 
Preventing Fleas and Ticks
It's a good idea to mow your lawn frequently, pick up yard waste, and keep bushes trimmed short. You can check for fleas with a special comb and complete the tick check that we recommended above as well. If you want to take a proactive approach, wash your pet’s toys and beddings in hot water weekly even if you’re not sure that fleas or ticks have gotten into the house.
 
Our veterinarians would be happy to recommend a specific parasite control product if you’re not sure which one is best for your pet. For your convenience, we also carry several flea and tick prevention products in our online store
 
Photo Credit: Cranach / Getty Images