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Photo of a dog getting a preventive flea treatment

Ticks and fleas can cause severe health problems for your pet, from itchy skin irritations to potentially fatal illnesses like Lyme disease. Pet owners must take steps to prevent fleas and ticks and treat them as soon as possible. Here are some ways to deal with ticks and fleas on your dog or cat.

Prevention You can buy prescription flea and tick preventative treatments from your veterinarian. These liquid drops work by transferring a chemical into your pet's skin glands that are highly toxic to fleas and ticks but harmless for your pet. Some drops also contain an insect growth regulator (IGR) that stops flea and tick eggs from developing. Flea collars don't work as well as drops that a vet's office provides. We also don't recommend over-the-counter drops from the pet store as they can be dangerous, especially for cats. Ticks and fleas love to live in shady, protected areas, so keep your lawn mowed and trimmed and keep your yard clear of leaves and debris. Signs your pet has ticks or fleas Some signs that fleas and ticks are feeding on your pet include:

  • Excessive licking or scratching

  • Hair loss

  • Anemia from blood loss

  • Scabs

  • Diarrhea and rice grain-like eggs in the stools (tapeworms transmitted by fleas cause them).

Don't wait to notice these symptoms. Being proactive can drastically reduce your pet's risk of developing a life-threatening illness from a tick or flea bite. Inspection It's crucial to regularly check your pet's fur for fleas and ticks, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Run a flea comb through your pet's coat and pay special attention to its neck and the base of its tail. Look for living fleas and droppings – eggs are too small for the naked eyes. If you find any, treat them immediately with a flea and tick product from the vet. Using an over-the-counter flea and tick spray or shampoo first may compromise the efficacy of the product the vet will give your pet once you come to the office. Remove any ticks you find as soon as possible before they get a chance to bite. Make sure the entire tick is out, including the head. If the head breaks off and you leave it, the area can get infected, and disease can still be transmitted. It's best to come in for a check-up to ensure everything is out. To properly remove it, follow these tips:

  • Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers

  • Grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to the skin as possible

  • Pull up on the tick with steady pressure to remove it

  • Clean the bite area with alcohol, soap and water

  • Dispose of a tick by putting it in alcohol, a sealed bag or a container or by wrapping it in tape before putting it in the trash.

If you find fleas, chances are they're also in your home. Vacuum and wash your dog's bedding regularly. Tick and flea treatment for pets in Toronto At Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of preventative flea and tick treatments. Buy them through our online store or by visiting our clinic. You can also schedule a heartworm test for your pet at our clinic in the Toronto area. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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