What You Should Know About Flea and Tick Treatment in Pets
How to prevent fleas, ticks, and worms on your pets
Controlling fleas, ticks and worms on your pet can be a frustrating experience but there are some steps you can take to not only keep your pet protected from parasites but to make sure your family and house are protected too. It’s important to find the right preventive treatment for your pet that works with their lifestyle. Always remember that dosage is important, and dog-specific medication cannot be used for your cat and vice versa.
Here are some of our top tips in this guide all about parasite control for your pet.
How do you prevent fleas?
Fleas are some of the most annoying pests to deal with. They are small, jump, and breed quickly. Dogs and cats can pick up fleas from being outside and around other animals. Excessive itching and scratching is a sign that your pet may have fleas. You may even spot the little acrobats jumping around.
If your family pet has fleas, it is likely that your yard or house will become a breeding ground so acting quickly is key to preventing the spread.
How to get rid of your pet fleas:1. Kill the fleas with a topical preventative. Flea medications such as, Revolution spread quickly between fleas, killing adults, and stopping new ones from hatching. Most fleas will be killed within a few hours, but it can take days for topical medications to have full effect. Pay attention to choosing the right formula for your pet as some work better than others and use it exactly as directed.
2. Kill fleas with an oral preventative. While topical treatments will affect fleas directly, oral pills or chewables (like Bravecto or NexGard) work after fleas bite your pet.
3. Wash your pet’s bedding in hot water every couple of days. Heat will kill any fleas and their eggs but make sure to use chemicals and soaps that are pet-friendly and aren’t going to irritate the skin.
4. Wash your pet using flea shampoo. Ask your vet or pet store for the best shampoo for your pet’s fur and skin. While these shampoos might kill the fleas directly on your pet, they won’t knock out the infestation in your home.
5. Use a flea comb. Flea combs are a special comb that is fine enough to catch fleas. Have a bowl of warm soapy water handy to dunk them in once you comb them out. Continue to brush through your pet's fur for a few days to make sure the fleas aren’t reoccurring.
Regular vet checkups. Vets can assess risk factors for fleas and other parasites based on your area and recommend preventative care, such as a monthly medication.
While many vets approved or prescribed sprays and topical treatments are considered safe, some pets may still be sensitive to their ingredients. Stop any treatment if you notice it is causing irritation to your pet’s skin, or any other allergic response, and make sure to inform your vet of any sensitivities to medications or ingredients that might not be suitable to use.
How do you prevent ticks?
Ticks can be lethal parasites that feed on your pet’s blood and secrete toxins into their bloodstream. This can cause serious paralysis and can be fatal. Hot and humid weather is a breeding ground for ticks, especially in bushland or grassy areas so if you live in a hot and humid climate it’s most likely ticks will be lurking around.
There are two major types of ticks that can cause significant harm to your pet – the paralysis tick and the brown dog tick.
What do paralysis ticks look like?
Paralysis ticks have 8 legs with 2 back legs and 2 front legs darker than the other legs. They are grey in colour once they have fed and have longer mouth parts than other species of tick. Paralysis ticks are dangerous ticks, which deliver a deadly neurotoxin to animals. They are found in large numbers during the warmer months along the east coast of Australia usually near bushland where they can attach themselves to your pet while you’re out walking. But they can also attach themselves to pets in urban areas as they hide in long grass and feed on native animals.
What are the signs that my pet has a paralysis tick?
Paralysis tick signs in a dog:
- A change in the sound of your dog’s bark
- Retching or coughing that sounds like your dog is trying to clear their throat
- Weakness in the hind legs or an unsteady walk
- Rapid or difficulty breathing, open mouthed breathing
If your dog is showing these signs it’s important to have them treated as soon as possible. Any delay puts them at greater risk of tick paralysis. Contact your veterinarian for more information and for the right treatment for your dog.
Paralysis tick signs in a cat:
Cats display symptoms of disease rather than paralysis as an early detection sign. Cat’s might look more silent in action than usual, taking a few steps before lying down. Other important signs to watch out for are breathing or changes in breathing noise. If you can hear wheezing or asthmatic sounds it could be an early sign of a deadly bite.
Advanced stages of tick toxicity will have more noticeable walking and swaying difficulties. These signs include:
- Weakness in back legs which can lead to paralysis of all four legs
- Difficulty breathing
- Appetite loss
- Vomiting or heaving
- Excess salivation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Coughing often
- Panting like a dog
What do brown dog ticks look like?
Brown dog ticks are reddish brown in colour with an elongated body shape. On dogs, adult brown dog ticks can be found on the ears and between the toes, while younger brown dog ticks attach themselves along the dog's back.
There are serious infections that can be transmitted from one dog to another by the brown dog tick in Australia, including:
- Babesiosis – Babesia parasites invade the red blood cells of dogs and cause anaemia, which can be fatal
- Ehrlichiosis – is a fatal bacterial infection confirmed in Australian dogs for the first time in 2020.
Brown dog tick symptoms generally include skin irritation at the site of attachment and although these ticks cannot cause paralysis like the paralysis tick, they can still transmit life threatening infections to your dog. Cats can be bitten by brown dog ticks although they seem to be a lot more resilient to infections from these ticks.
What is the best flea, tick, and worm treatment for dogs and cats?
The best flea, tick, and worm treatment for dogs and cats is one that works best for your lifestyle and pet’s life stage. There are many options to choose from when it comes to preventative treatments for your pet. Currently, some of the best on the market in terms of effectiveness and the latest research are chewable tablets that cover all parasites. These tablets are brands such as NexGard Spectra, Bravecto, and Simparica Trio. NexGard Spectra is a monthly chewable tablet that covers ticks, fleas, worms and other parasites while Bravecto and Simparica Trio cover these parasites for up to 3 months, providing much longer protection for your pet.
Different types of preventative treatments may suit your pet better than others:
- Tablets can be hard to give to cats as they can be quite fussy. You could try crushing a tablet into their food, but you will need to make sure your cat eats all their food and watch they don’t spit it out or vomit afterwards.
- If your dog likes to swim a lot, a tablet or chew may be a better choice, even water-resistant products may lose their effectiveness in the water
- Chew tablets can work well for dogs as they are flavoured and can be given as a treat, otherwise if your dog is fussy, you can crush the tablet up and place it in their food
- Some cat treatments come in a syrup form and can be squirted straight in the mouth or mixed into their food
- Spot on treatments is great for pets that won’t take any tablets or syrups by mouth but may not be a good idea if you have kids patting or cuddling the pet or if your pet is predominantly indoors as the chemicals can rub off on furniture and bedding
- Flea and/or tick collars may also pose a risk for children touching their pets and cause some skin irritation around your pets' neck
- If you live in a heartworm area you might want to consider an annual dose of injectable heartworm prevention from your vet for your dog. This is a great choice if you think you will forget to give monthly heartworm prevention which is crucial to the health of your dog
What is the cheapest way to get rid of fleas, worms and ticks?
Supermarkets might not be the cheapest place to buy products. Check out online pet suppliers and price matches to find the best deals. Combination products such as NexGard Spectra can be cheaper than buying them separately plus it will be more convenient to give one medication rather than separate. However, the cost will largely depend upon ingredients, newer and more effective flea and worm treatments are generally more expensive than older ones.
Make sure you always give the correct dosage of preventative treatments to your pet based on their weight and what works best for their lifestyle and health. If you have any further questions our in-house veterinary team can help, find a method that works best for you. We offer the best products at the best prices when it comes to preventative treatments. For more information visit our online shop.