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Carlsbad Animal Hospital Answers Flea and Tick FAQs

An important practice in keeping dogs and cats healthy is to notice signs that they may be suffering from fleas or ticks, and then take appropriate actions for treatment. At Carlsbad Animal Hospital, we're dedicated to helping pets and providing the information you need when a health problem occurs. Here are answers to some questions pet owners frequently ask about fleas and ticks.

Two dogs outside walking on a trail in Carlsbad, CA.

How are fleas different from ticks?

Both are wingless, but fleas are insects that hop whereas ticks are arachnids with eight legs that crawl. Fleas live about 100 days and lay 20 to 40 eggs daily for many weeks. Ticks survive up to 3 years and lay thousands of eggs once, then die.

What are the symptoms fleas and ticks cause?

Excessive scratching, licking, and biting of the skin is the most obvious sign along with red spots and scabs. Ticks are less mobile than fleas once they latch onto a host, so they usually are easier to see.

Are fleas and ticks dangerous to my pet or me?

Yes. They both carry diseases that can affect pet and owner. The one you might hear most about is Lyme disease spread by ticks. However, fleas may cause infection with a variety of Bartonella bacteria causing diseases that are particularly debilitating for pet owners.

When are these pests active?

Fleas thrive during warm weather, but can't survive the near-freezing weather that ticks tolerate. Once they infest a climate controlled home, these parasites thrive there despite the season. But summer may be when a pet owner notices fleas and ticks most due to pets spending more time outside where both types of parasites live in tall grass and shrubs.

How can I protect my pet?

Check your pet's skin every day or so. Fleas like to hide in moist areas such as the anus, armpits, ears and groin. Although they can hide quickly, they leave behind tiny black droppings called flea dirt. Finding ticks requires combing fingers through pet fur and feeling for tiny lumps. Treating pets once a month with insecticidal medicines minimizes the parasites. These treatments kill parasites neurologically.

What is the right way to remove a tick?

Grasp the tick close to your pet's skin with fine-tipped tweezers. Pull it out without twisting or crushing it.

What kinds of safe treatments are available?

A number are over-the-counter products at pet stores and in supermarkets. Some are embedded in temporary collars whereas others are oral medications or topical treatments applied directly to the skin, such as shampoos and powders. Consult a vet about which products are safest and most effective, then apply them according to package directions.

Where can I go in Carlsbad CA to see a veterinarian about these problems?

Carlsbad Animal Hospital provides comprehensive pet care. We're at 2739 State Street in Carlsbad, CA 92008. For an appointment, please contact us online or call 760-729-4431. We're open seven days a week. Ask about our $1 new patient exams.