The right flea and tick treatment can protect your pet from little bugs … and big problems

(BPT) – If you’re a pet owner, you know parasites – particularly fleas and ticks – can be a frustrating problem. That’s why you keep your pet out of tall grass and brush, and do routine flea and tick checks inside. You’re probably also using a flea and tick product to ensure your pet and family are safe from the parasite-borne diseases these pests can carry into your home.

However, instead of just using any old flea and tick product, you should be using a product that fits the lifestyles of both your pet and you. That way you can avoid some common pitfalls of flea and tick protection that may leave your pet, and your family, exposed to serious diseases.

The top four common pitfalls that leave your pet unprotected

1. Sometimes you forget

Life gets busy, and people forget things. It seems like you administered your pet’s flea and tick medication just yesterday, but somehow more than another month has gone by, and you’re just remembering. Fido has fallen into that dangerous gap of running about in the yard during peak flea and tick season unprotected.

What if you had longer-lasting, full-time protection? Just like the longer-lasting battery in your cellphone, flea and tick products have made technological advances. Next time you’re at the veterinarian, ask about a flea and tick product that protects your pet for up to 12 weeks with a single oral dose. Visit for more information.

2. It’s hard to use

Applying your pet’s current flea and tick product can be a chore. Some of the products are messy; they can get on your hands, on the furniture, even on other family members. And that’s if you can get the dog to stand still while you’re applying it! If you feel your current treatment is messy or inconvenient, you might want to consider a convenient chew available for dogs. And because the chew is meat flavored, you won’t need to be a dog whisperer to get your four-legged friend to take a dose.

3. It doesn’t last

Maybe your dog just loves to roll around in the grass and rub up on the furniture. Maybe it likes to swim too. Or, maybe your dog gets into enough mischief that you have to give frequent baths. If your current flea and tick treatment can rub or wash off, it might have you worried about full-time protection for your pooch.

This is another good reason to ask your veterinarian about a long lasting oral flea and tick medication.

4. You only give it seasonally

Depending on where you live, you may feel year-round protection is unnecessary. However, tick prevalence varies so much by year, season, and geographic location, that the Companion Animal Parasite Council, an organization specializing in pet parasite protection, recommends year-round protection for your pet.

Flea prevalence and geographic location vary enough that treatment should be tailored based on your location. Ask your veterinarian about determining the right level of protection for your dog. However, it’s good to know that the most common type of flea (Ctenocephalides felis, the “cat flea”) can survive for several days at temperatures below 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).

What these pitfalls can mean to your pet’s health

Without flea and tick prevention, you could be taking a serious risk with your pet’s, and even your family’s, health. With the multitude of serious diseases caused by parasites you need to be more than careful, and you need to be proactive.

Flea-related diseases

* Flea Allergy Dermatitis – This common rash is caused by an allergic reaction of your pet’s skin to the flea’s saliva. Flea Allergy Dermatitis causes itching, which can lead to inflammation of the skin, redness, or even hair loss. Pets can also develop bacterial infections from the wounds made by scratching.

* Anemia – When your pet is heavily infested, and its blood is constantly being fed on, iron deficiency anemia and death can result.

Tick-borne diseases

* Lyme disease – You’re aware it exists. The problem is it’s hard to identify. Your pet won’t have the characteristic “bulls-eye” rash at the bite site that humans get, so you may not even know anything’s wrong until your pet appears to be “walking on eggshells” in extreme pain. Pets with Lyme disease may also stop eating, limp, and have high fever. Treatment with antibiotics can be lengthy, and occasionally pets have flare-ups.

* Tick paralysis – Five tick species in North America, including the deer tick, can actually cause paralysis in dogs. Tick paralysis occurs during feeding when a female tick carrying eggs transmits a neurotoxin from her salivary glands to the host. Once the tick is removed, symptoms usually start to go away quickly. However, profound paralysis and death can occur if the tick goes unnoticed (the most toxin is produced between the fifth and seventh day of feeding).

* Canine Ehrlichiosis – Carried mainly by the brown dog tick, this disease has three stages. During the acute stage, symptoms can include fever, breathing problems, weight loss, and bleeding disorders. The extremely dangerous second phase, when your pet shows no symptoms, often leads to full-blown clinical ehrlichiosis. Dogs reaching this third stage may become anemic, have bleeding episodes, lameness, eye problems, neurological problems, and swollen limbs. In this fatal stage your pet may no longer be able to produce blood cells.

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