As we make our way into the Monsoon season, our pets face an increased risk of picking up a few unwanted guests on their fur. Fleas and Ticks are a common problem, but that doesn’t mean they can be dealt with lightly. Pet owners must be wary of Tick Fever, and other skin conditions that can seriously affect their furry loved ones. Before you find the right solution (such as a tick repellent spray for dogs) for your pet, let’s talk a little more about the problem, the available treatment, and the best way to deal with these pests.
Fleas and Ticks are transferred onto your pet when they are outdoors, through exploring gardens and interacting with other pets and animals. It is not uncommon for these infestations to make their way into your homes; visible on furniture, house plants, curtains etc. In the case of Fleas, the presence of one usually means there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, more of them as they rapidly reproduce and spread. For this reason, it is important to find and apply the right solution as early as possible.
How do Flea and Tick Medications Work?
Available in several forms, Flea and Tick medications are most commonly topical applications. These applications are usually administered in the form of a liquid that is squeezed onto the back of your pet’s neck. These medications make use of a variety of chemicals to target and terminate these pests, regardless of their stage of development. The most common chemicals found in these medications are permethrins or amitraz, while fipronil is present to exterminate Fleas before they are able to lay eggs. Certain medications are also equipped to neutralise already laid eggs, preventing them from hatching as well as preventing the development of further larvae.
What Chemicals are Used in Flea Medications?
Flea and Tick medications are usually comprised of a set of chemicals and active ingredients, and these ingredients vary across different medications. The most common form is a type of pyrethroid-based chemical that serves as an effective insecticide, along with carbamates and organophosphate insecticides.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, these substances are capable of causing harm to the nervous system of humans, especially in younger children. While the data regarding its harmful effects on household pets is limited, there have been cases in which exposure to these chemicals has proved harmful to pets. It is important to turn towards natural solutions in order to avoid the risk of harming your precious pets, as the chemicals used in Flea and Tick medications are toxic for dogs and cats.
Pros and Cons of traditional Flea and Tick Medications
When searching for the ideal solution for your pet, it is important to account for all of the dangers posed by it. No matter how effective chemical medications prove to be, there is no denying the potential side effects and harmful qualities that need to be considered.
Every pet owners knows how difficult it is to prevent your pet from licking/biting the spot where medication is applied. There are many dangers of ingesting these chemical-based Flea and Tick treatments as they are toxic, causing several unpleasant side effects such as vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivation, appetite loss etc. Similarly, some of these medications result in a skin irritation for the pet, which can further exacerbate the situation. Despite the benefits of these fast-acting solutions, we cannot ignore the potential side effects, irritations and allergic reactions that can be caused by it. Instead, why not look towards natural herbal remedies that provide your beloved pet with a solution that’s just as effective, but comes with a significantly reduced risk.
The benefits of a safe, effective Flea and Tick medication are tenfold. These medications are usually applied once every few weeks, and are very straightforward to administer. Effective Flea and Tick medications target these pests across all life stages, ensuring that the infestation is properly dealt with.
Before using any kind of medication on your pet, please consult your veterinarian to confirm its suitability. Different pets have varying reactions to these medications, and it’s important to prioritise their comfort.
Fleas are an unavoidable pest in our lives. No matter how clean or well maintained your pet is, they face a high chance of bringing Fleas into your home. While colder climates reduces the risk of Flea infestations, they can still thrive in the warmth of your home and remain a cause of concern all through the year, no matter where you live. Fortunately, there are effective non-harmful products that you can use to safeguard your home from infestation.
Fleas are a common wildlife pest, and are carried by a variety of animals. Whether from stray dogs, wandering cats or squirrels, your pets are at risk of providing these Fleas with a new home to infest. These Flea bites cause an itching that can damage the skin, leading to secondary infections or more serious diseases like tapeworm, bartonellosis (Cat Scratch disease), and blood parasites, which can affect humans as well. Once the infestation has set in, it is very difficult to get rid of it so prevention should always be preferable to a cure when dealing with these pests.
Life Cycle of a Flea
The entire life cycle of an Adult Flea is spent on the infested host animal, where they proceed to feed and produce eggs when breeding further. Once laid, these Flea eggs fall from the host animal, hatch, and then develop into larvae that feeds on whatever organic substances it can find. The beds and carpets that your pets sleep on are usually filled with minuscule, unnoticeable Flea eggs and larvae. In time, the larvae cocoons itself, develops into pupae and finally emerges as an Adult Flea, ready to find a new place to live.
In Winter, the cold environment kills off a large amount of Flea eggs and larvae, but this doesn’t deal with the pests who have made their way into shelter. For this reason, Fleas are capable of surviving all through the year, so it is not difficult for a handful to turn into a complete infestation after a few weeks.
Symptoms and Identification
Hidden in the thick fur of your pet, Fleas manage to avoid detection and cause a variety of problems. In adult form, these hard-to-find pets resemble small reddish-brown sesame seeds. The primary problem areas are the neck and ears, along the backside and head of the tail, and on their underbelly and groin areas. The movement of these Fleas can be spotted in these primary regions, especially where the fur is thinner and easier to part. The most common indicator given by your pet will be an excessive amount of scratching and biting, to the extent where the skin in problem area is raw, and can attract further skin infections.
In some cases, pets develop an allergic reaction to Flea bites so a single bite is all it takes to set off widespread irritation. Another good indicator of Flea infestations is the presence of dried Flea excrement, or ‘Flea Dirt’.
Treatment of Flea bites
There are a number of products available to exterminate Fleas and Ticks, and prevent their further reproduction, but many of them contain harmful chemicals that bring a list of risks. Instead, we should turn towards herbal remedies that do not contain any pesticides and insecticides capable of harming us or our pets.
Topical herbal products are to be applied to the pet’s skin, along their backs up to the neck and between their shoulders. As they are made entirely from natural ingredients, these products pose no threat to your pet if ingested. Be sure to consult your veterinarian regarding whether these topical applications are suitable for your pet.
Responsible, consistent use of these treatments will not only eliminate infestations, but will also prevent further ones from springing up in the future. In addition to herbal remedies applied to your pet, it is important to look into products that can be applied around the house.
Ensure that all beds, bed sheets and blankets of pets are frequently and thoroughly washed, to reduce the likelihood of any Flea eggs or larvae surviving after the Adult Fleas have been dealt with.
If applied correctly, your pet should face no trouble in dealing with infestations, and will be grateful for ridding them of these pests.
When do they bite, and why?
Fleas are capable of storing more than fifteen times their body weight in blood, giving them a thirst for unsuspecting prey. The numerous short spikes on their legs make them difficult to shake off as they stick to their host. Flea bites inject their human or animal host with saliva, containing more than 15 different substances and capable of causing severe allergic reactions. While dogs are at the highest risk of developing Flea problems and allergies, it is not impossible for it to similarly affect cats, humans and other animals. As parasites, Fleas require blood for sustenance, so that they can survive and reproduce further.
What do Flea bites look like?
Flea bites usually resemble small red dots which are difficult to notice, but this is in cases where an allergic reaction has yet to occur. However, the itching sensation caused by them can lead to damaging skin in the affected areas, or even further infection. An allergic reaction would result in severe itching, small pimples to be treated, and the entire infected area turning red.
Are they dangerous to Humans?
Firstly, it is important to remember that Fleas are rarely attracted to humans as hosts, in comparison to their pets. Humans mostly suffer Flea bites from those found on dogs and cats. These bites will occur in large clusters and will cause an itching sensation. It is not uncommon for individuals to be especially sensitive to these bites, as they develop a group of red bumps or hives on the infected area.
These Flea bites are most often attracted to the lower half of legs, around the shin and ankle areas. Flea bites can also occur on forearms of pet owners who frequently carry their pets. Human Fleas are the only type that occur in groups of two or three. Some individuals develop serious allergic reactions to the Flea saliva, so a single bite is all it takes for them to feel irritation. Rarely, it is possible to transmit diseases from the bacteria and viruses present on Fleas.
Flea bite treatment for Humans
It is important to meet Flea bites with quick curative action. If ignored, these bites will worsen and the itching will grow more and more uncontrollable. Fortunately, we have access to numerous treatments that will soothe the irritation and cure any allergic reactions that may occur due to the bite. There are ways to cure yourself at home, but it is important to consult a doctor if the condition worsens. There are many different reactions to Flea bites, depending on the immune system and exposure of the individual bitten, so treatments will also have a varying effect from person to person.
- The first step is to resist the temptation of scratching the affected area. Unknowingly, individuals excessively scratch their bites and create opportunities for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and significantly worsen the situation.
- For relief from the itching, apply a soothing cream or lotion. Not only will this reduce the swelling, but it will also decrease the likelihood of infections. Cold water is also an effective way to soothe the inflamed areas.
- If the cream or lotion is not effective, there areantihistamines that can be taken, but this must only be done after consulting a doctor.
Here are a few DIY home remedies that help protect your pet from Fleas –
A harmless, easily available remedy to repel Fleas is the use of citrus fruits. Found in any grocery store, or even your back garden, these natural charms are excellent at protecting your pet from pests. Simply rub juice from an orange or lemon on to your dog’s fur, and allow it to dry naturally, for an excellent way to protect against fleas and even help improve the smell of your pet’s fur.
The simplest way to reduce the amount of Fleas present on your pet is to regularly, and thoroughly, bathe them in water. A thorough wash and scrub down should help ensure most of those pests get washed completely off.
Apple Cider Vinegar
An effective deterrent, Apple Cider Vinegar can used to help your dog’s Flea infestation even if it cannot kill them. Owners can either choose to apply it directly to the dog’s fur, or add it to their drinking water. When applying topically, ensure to dilute the vinegar in a 1:1 ratio with water. Not only is it good for relief from Fleas, but it also helps remove other unwanted odour from the fur. If adding to drinking water, add roughly 1 teaspoon to every 1 Litre of water.
Rosemary Flea Dip
Rosemary has been considered a medicinal herb and natural antiseptic for thousands of years. Boil 2 cups of fresh rosemary in 1 Litre of water to make an effective Flea dip for your pet. Once it cools, strain out the rosemary and pour over your dog’s fur, allowing it to dry naturally.
Brewer’s yeast is used in the fermentation process of beer and most breads. This bitter tasting ingredient is made from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, a one-celled fungus. Adding a few servings of brewer’s yeast to your pet’s food has proven to be an effective way to keep away Fleas. To find the correct, safe dosage for your pet, please consult a trained veterinarian.
The common Tick is a form of organism known as Ectoparasites, which means they live on the outside of a host animal. Common among dogs, and sometimes even cats, the likelihood of attracting Ticks depends on a variety of factors ranging from the country you live in, to the tropical climate in certain times of year. Regardless of how often they go outdoors, the presence of Ticks depends on the habits of your dog, and how proactively you dispose of the Ticks that have gathered on their fur
Ticks latch themselves onto your dog’s skin by biting onto them with their mouthparts. There are Ticks who also secrete a sticky, gluelike substance that helps them to remain attached to the host as they feed on its blood. Usually, the bite areas become red and irritated.
A rare occurrence is where the dog periodically loses enough blood to develop Anaemia, a condition where the body lacks sufficient healthy red blood cells. There are certain breeds of female Ticks capable of producing a certain toxin, causing a rare form of paralysis in the dog.
An important concern about Ticks is their ability to cause various diseases in your pet. The most common disease is Lyme disease, which causes early onset arthritis and swelling of joints, making it very painful and difficult for them to walk.
If you regularly find Ticks on your dog –
- Regularly apply the necessary herbal remedies to keep the Ticks at bay.
- Spray your backyard and outdoor environment with the appropriate product to reduce the likelihood of Ticks preying on your dog in those areas.
- Ensure the garden area is properly segregated from the living area, to hamper the migration of Ticks indoors.
- Drive away all stray animals from the surrounding area of your home.
- Be wary of the specific seasons in which Ticks are more likely to breed and turn up on your dog’s fur.
Are they dangerous to Humans?
Ticks are also a concern for humans, as they are known to occasionally be found on them. Similar to dogs, the bite area turns red in colour and causes an irritation, especially when the individual has an allergic reaction to the protein present in Tick saliva. Aside from itching and irritation, the affected region could also develop blisters, boils or rashes. Proper care must be taken in this case as excessive scratching can lead to secondary skin infections, caused by bacteria, that require treatment through antibiotics or steroidal skin creams.
A common misconception is that humans contract diseases from ill pets, but the truth is that these diseases are transmitted from pet to owner via these Ticks. Humans face the rick of contracting diseases like Lyme Disease, which can be very serious and must be treated immediately.
Please consult your doctor in case you experience prolonged irritation from a Tick bite, or are suspicious of having Tick Fever or any other related illness.
Quick Facts on Ticks & Fleas
- Tick & Flea bites, and the irritation caused by them, should not be ignored or easily dismissed as they could cause dangerous diseases.
- Use natural, herbal remedies for Tick & Flea prevention or control, and avoid using chemical-based
- Always use tweezers when pulling Ticks off of either human or dog skin, as this prevents the Tick mouthpart from being left behind on the skin of the host.
- Adult Ticks are capable of going over a year without feeding on blood, and can live up to three years this way, so it is important to be very thorough when getting rid of them.
- Fleas are capable of storing more than fifteen times their body weight in blood, and have numerous short spikes on their legs, making them difficult to shake off as they stick to their host.
- Flea bites usually resemble small red dots which are difficult to notice and, in the case of an allergic reaction, results in severe itching, small pimples, and the entire infected area turning red.
- Ticks bites can result in many serious illnesses, such as severe anaemia, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and joint issues, in both humans and dogs.
- An average Adult Tick will attach itself to a minimum of three different hosts in its entire lifetime.
- Ticks usually attach themselves to animals, and can also be found on humans who walk through tall grass or areas with a lot of green cover.
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author, based on available information. Herbal Strategi cannot be held responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information presented in this article.
Please take all provided information on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Herbal Strategi, and Herbal Strategi does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
We, at Herbal Strategi, strongly urge any individuals concerned about Ticks and Fleas to go and consult a vet or medical professional immediately.