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Fighting the Flea & Tick Battle

External parasites are the bane of every pet and pet owner. Besides being irritating, fleas and ticks carry disease, some of which are transmittable to humans.

For pets, these parasites can cause physical problems ranging from severe skin problems to arthritis to lethargy and depression. They can even help transmit other parasites such as tapeworms to pets.

In warm areas like humid South, flea prevention is a year round event. In other parts of the country, where winter actually might last more than three days, the flea battle may be more of a seasonal frustration. However, it is critical for pet owners to approach flea prevention with the three-prong attack. That simply means you cannot simply treat or apply prevention to your pet and possibly think you're going to win the flea battle. Pet owners must put forth a conscientious effort by treating their pet, yard and home.


There are 5 types of Fleas:

FleaXenopsylla Cheopis

FleaEchidnophaga Gallinacea

FleaPulex Irritans

FleaCtenocephalides Felis

FleaCtenocephalides Canis


The most common flea is Ctenocephalides felis, or simply known as the cat flea, although it certainly does not discriminate among the canine, feline or humans species. The cat flea is perfectly formed for its mission: to latch onto a warm body and suck its blood. The entomological equivalent of Superman, the flea is capable of jumping as high as 13 feet and consequently has no trouble leaping on to tall dogs in a single bound! Small dogs and cats are no challenge at all.


The most common Ticks:

TickIxodes scapularis (Deer Tick)

TickRhipicephalus sanguineus (Brown Dog Tick)

TickDermacentor variabilis (American Dog Tick)

TickAmblyomma americanum (Lone Star Tick)

TickDermacentor andersoni (Rocky Mountain Wood Tick)


North America is home to several tick species including: the deer tick, the western black-legged tick, the Lone Star tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the American dog tick. The diseases that ticks cause and transmit areunpleasant for both humans and pets, and serious casescan even be fatal, so do not take these bloodsuckers lightly. Some of the more well known diseases associated with ticks includes Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.


The flea is a common problem for pets as well as their owners. As if flea bites aren't bad enough, some pets are "flea allergic" and develop severe itching with even trivial infestations of fleas. This occurs because the animal becomes hypersensitive to the antigens in flea saliva.

The best approach is to kill the flea and prevent its return. Like all parasites, fleas pose a health-hazard to your pet (and to you), and can make him miserable. These worrisome pests can be treated and prevented.

Flea control and prevention is easier and safer than ever. The old-style, toxic products containing organophosphates, pyrethrins and permethrins can still be found over the counter, but today's most effective products for your pet are topical treatments available from your veterinarian. Remember, you want to get a product that is safe for your particular pet and dangerous only to the fleas. Examples of good and safe products for your pets include Frontline Spray, Frontline Plus, Capstar and Advantage.

What to Watch For:

  • Itching, Chewing and Licking
  • Staring
  • Anxious Expression
  • Flea "dirt" (black pepper type discharge on the skin)
  • Skin lesions such as moist dermatitis
  • Presence of Fleas
  • Treatment

    Treatment for fleas may be dependent on the following: the degree of infestation; whether you have both cats and dogs; the time of the year; area of exposure (yard vs. park); and whether your pet has an allergy to the fleas. Many products are available for the treatment of flea infestations. All products have advantages and disadvantages and may or may not be safe to use with other products. Some of the over-the-counter powders, sprays and collars. In tough cases, a comprehensive flea control program may be needed that involves treatment of your pet, yard and house.


    Tick infestation is the presence and attachment of a tick, a blood sucking parasite. Direct contact with ticks frequently results in tick infestation. In addition, ingestion of ticks can occur when the dog grooms.

    Tick infestations are more common in dogs than cats. There is no age or breed predilection, although individuals who spend more time outdoors and who are in direct contact with ticks are more often affected, such as hunting breeds.

    Ticks may appear as a small dark speck on your pet's fur, or in an attached, engorged state, may appear as small growths or raisins.

    Ticks are important agents of disease transmission. Although not all ticks carry disease, it is important to note that certain ones do. Signs associated with certain tick-borne diseases (borreliosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme and others) vary with the organ system affected.


    Ticks should be removed as soon as possible to minimize the amount of pathogen (disease producing organism) transmitted. To do this, grasp the tick close to the skin and pull gently, generally with tweezers, and never with your bare hand.

    Tick collars or products applied topically may act to prevent attachment of new ticks and to promote detachment of ticks already attached. Ticks may be killed by spraying, dipping, bathing, or powdering affected individuals with appropriate tick-killing products

    Ticks belong to the arachnid family, which also includes spiders. Ticks may not be as widespread as fleas in a lot of areas, but they can bring serious problems in the form of diseases that can be transmitted to people as well as pets.


    Remember that in addition to treating fleas and ticks on your pet, you also need to treat your pet's environment, indoors and out. Many indoor products contain both an adulticide (permethrins and pyrethrins) and ingredients to kill the eggs and larvae (Nylar and Methoprene).

  • Adams Carpet Spray (Permethrin, Linalool and Nylar)
  • Adams Flea and Tick Yard Spray (Fenvalerate)
  • Adams Flea and Tick Room Fogger (Nylar, Permethrin)
  • Siphotrol Yard Spray (32oz)
  • Knockout Room and Area Fogger (6 oz)
  • NEW! Long Acting KnockOut Flea & Tick Spray for DOGS by Virbac (16 fl oz)
  • Yard Spray Concentrate by Virbac (16oz)
  • Features to Consider in Flea and Tick Medications:

  • Size/dosage
  • Effect(do you want more than one effect e.g. fleas/ticks/heartworms)
  • Presentation: liquid, shampoo, dip, collars, spot-on, tablets, oral solutions
  • Safety
  • Efficacy
  • Ingredients
  • Cost
  • Guarantee
  • Waterproof
  • Frequency of Administration
  • Safety Tips for Using Pet Flea and Tick Medications:

  • Always read label instructions on any flea and tick medication before administering to your pet.
  • Review age and weight of your pet before application or dosage of any dog flea and tick medication.
  • Give all dog flea and tick medication as directed, for example if your veterinarian recommends year round treatment, follow their instructions.
  • Flea and Tick medication products labeled for another animal types should not be given to another pet (NEVER give your cat products labeled for your dog).


    Advantage Flea Control




    Frontline Top Spot

    Frontline PLUS


    Bio Spot