Why and How to Manage Fleas and Ticks

If you are the loving owner of a cat or dog, chances are you are going to come across fleas and ticks at least once during your pet’s lifetime. These pesky pests are an unfortunately common part of pet ownership, and in the case of fleas, one that can cause havoc in your home. Thankfully, prevention is possible and most responsible owners will ensure that they take steps to minimize the risk of either of these parasites affecting the human or animal members of their family.

To understand the importance of managing fleas and ticks, it is first necessary to learn the effect that they can have on everyone they come into contact with.

About fleas

Fleas are the single most common parasite that affects domestic animals in the U.S. These microscopic creatures reproduce so rapidly that even a single flea can cause an entire infestation in your home.

Each flea is a tiny, wingless creature with immense jumping capabilities. This allows them to jump on to their hosts from the ground outside, where they settle in and feast off their blood, and catch a ride in to your home.

Flea bite allergies are among the most prevalent in humans and animals. This is because flea saliva contains a toxin, and when it comes in to contact with yours or your pet’s skin, it can cause irritation, itching and swelling. In severe cases where scratching the bites have caused a wound, an infection that requires antibiotics to heal may also develop.

About ​​​​​​​ticks

Ticks are another parasite that can affect both your pet and the human members of your family. They are most often found outside, hiding under piles of leaves, among tall grasses, shrubs and trees, and as your pet brushes past, the tick attaches itself. Like fleas, ticks feed off the blood of their host, gorging themselves until they at least triple in size. They too can cause an allergic reaction through their bite, causing a wide range of symptoms including itching and swelling.

Unfortunately, ticks are also well known for their ability to carry and transmit infectious disease to both your animals and the humans living in your home. These can include Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

How to manage fleas

Initially it may be difficult to spot the signs of a flea infestation because they are so small. If you suspect that your pet may have fleas, you should perform a thorough check of their coat, paying particular attention to the ears and tail, as this is where groups of fleas tend to accumulate. It is often easier to check for signs of flea dirt. This looks like regular mud or dirt, but when made wet appears red and is actually the excrement of the fleas, which is primarily made of blood.

Fleas also like to munch on human blood, and you may notice itchy red bites on your skin, particularly around the calves and ankles.


If you have fleas in your home, you will need to treat your pets and your property at the same time to ensure that you remove the fleas at every stage of their life cycle and the infestation is completely eradicated.

There are many different topical treatments available for pets, and our vet will be happy to advise you which is the more suited for your particular animal. This should kill any live fleas that are living on your furry friend. However, when it comes to treating your home, things get a little more complicated. You will need to regularly vacuum carpets, floorboards, skirting boards, rugs, sofas and all soft furnishings multiple times to be sure you have picked up all traces of the infestation. Every time you vacuum, pull out the bag, seal it and dispose of it immediately so that no flea larvae can get back into your home. You should also boil wash bedding, towels, blankets and other similar items.


When it comes to fleas, prevention is always better than cure. There are a huge range of preventative treatments available which will help to protect your pet and your home from fleas. Speak to our vet for a recommendation as to which is the best variety for your animal.

How to manage ticks

Ticks are generally big enough to spot, especially once they have started feeding. To find them on your pet you will need to do a thorough examination of his coat, but they are most likely to be found around the head, neck, ears and feet. Once you spot one, resist the urge to yank it out immediately and instead follow the advice below.


Ticks bodies are filled with blood, which could potentially be carrying infection. Therefore, it is essential to remove ticks carefully to prevent any potential infection from being spread. Under no circumstances should you squeeze a tick as this could cause it to expel infected blood back in to your dog. You should also be careful not to leave a tick’s head stuck inside your pet’s body as this could cause further infection.

The best way to remove a tick is to twist its body. However, many veterinary offices and pet stores sell special tools that can help you effectively remove a tick from your pet’s body.


Many veterinarians advise to protect your pet against ticks, particularly if you live in an area where they are prevalent. There are a variety of preventative products available including collars, tablets and spot-on treatments, and our vet will be happy to advise you which is the most suitable for your furry friend. Contact Penn Valley Veterinary Associates for details.