Fleas and Ticks

Flea Control Jumping Flea

Animal Health Center recommends complete flea control for the house, yard and pet. Certain products are recommended based on the individuals situation and the breed and health of the pet. We prefer not to use chemicals such as those found in feed stores which have the possibility of causing harmful reactions to the pet or the environment. A few statements will be made about fleas and flea control which will hopefully help you understand how to control these parasites. This information may seem a little verbose, but to control fleas you must understand them.

Fleas are blood sucking parasites which spend 95% of their adult life on your pet. As many as 2000 eggs can be laid by the adult female flea within a few weeks. Eggs are laid on the pet, then they fall off into the carpet, grass, or similar areas. Fleas generally do not live for more than a few months, but reproduce quickly. A blood meal is required prior to egg laying. Fleas generally cannot live long without a blood meal, which means you will not find many adult fleas outside unless the pets stay outside to provide a source of blood. The adult flea comprises only 5% of the entire flea life cycle. Since the adult is the only one we see, imagine how many immature stages are in our house or yards that comprise the other 95%. Eighty five per cent of the immature stages are eggs and larvae. The other 10% is composed of the pupae which is much like a cocoon and is resistant to insecticides.

Most people concentrate on what they see, which is natural of course, but controlling only 5% of the total flea population will never get us anywhere. The solution to flea control is to concentrate on the eggs and larval stages before they develop the cocoon or pupae. The eggs and larvae need the correct amount of humidity, sunlight, and food source to survive. These facts help us to decide where these flea stages may hide. For instance, outside flea eggs and larvae can be found in the shaded, cooler areas. Examples are under tree limbs, bushes, dog pens, under decks ,etc. These immature stages generally cannot complete their development out in the sunny areas of your yard, so there is not point in using flea products in the middle of the sunny yard.

In the house, flea larvae and pupae will be deep in your carpet or just under the edge of furniture, not more than a few inches out of the light. Concentrating on flea control in carpeted areas is the most productive for indoor control. Also it is very important to use flea products on rugs or door mats (indoor and outdoor) where flea eggs may be deposited as the pets sits or stands on the rug.

If you see or feel fleas on you, they are usually the pre-emerging fleas which are the ones coming out of the pupae. Immature fleas can stay in the pupae stage for months until all the right conditions enable them to break out of their cocoon. Young fleas can be hopping and sucking blood within minutes after hatching out of the pupae stage. A common occurrence is when everyone goes on vacation for a few days to weeks then comes back to a warm house only to find that the house is infested with fleas. Actually what happens is that the vibration of people walking around triggers the hatching of the pupae. Usually when people see fleas on themselves it is the pre-emerging flea that has not found your dog or cat. Remember that fleas live most of their life on our pets, they prefer pets over us, so if we find fleas on us, we can believe that we really have problems with immature fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae. Just killing the adult flea will not solve the problem.

It is also important to remember that not seeing fleas on your pet does not rule them out. We know that cats can groom as many as 75% of the fleas off their body in one day. Sometimes you can see flea dirt, which looks like small curled black specks. This flea dirt is actually flea waste material and is composed primarily of dried blood. When pets are washed they can actually have so much "flea dirt" on them that it may seem as if the pet is bleeding due to the dissolving dried blood.

Products that control fleas are many and varied. Most contact kill products contain pyrethrins or permethrin chemicals. These chemicals are commonly found in pet flea shampoos, mousse products, some dips, and many flea sprays. These products usually do not work but a few minutes and long lasting activity into the next day is poor to none. The best way to control fleas is to use an adulticide ( products that kill adult fleas) and an IGR or insect growth regulator. These products not only kill the adult flea but also prevent the development of eggs into larvae and finally into pupae. Veterinarians are very knowledgeable about fleas and they should be consulted with questions concerning the effectiveness and safety of all flea products.

Some of the newer products to be available to veterinarians for the use on pets have been very effective at not only killing adults fleas but slowing the development of the life cycle. One such product is a monthly pill for dogs and an oral liquid for cats. Promises are that there will soon be an injectable product that will last for six months to help control fleas. Infomercials have also made us aware of a new product that is applied on the skin once a month to dogs and cats. This products is said to kill 95% of the fleas within 24 hours. Another spray product will kill fleas for three months and ticks for one month with just one application. The spray can also be used on cats but will only last for one month on fleas.

There are exciting new products on the horizon to control fleas. Consult us or your veterinarian about the best way to safely control fleas on your pet and its environment. If you have specific questions concerning fleas or their control please E-mail us at this site and we will gladly answer.


Ticks are very common in south Georgia. The most common ticks found in our area are the Deer Tick, Brown Dog Tick, and American Dog Tick. Ticks can be found almost anywhere, but primarily in grass, woods, or bushy areas. You generally do not see the tick when they crawl onto you or your pet but soon the tick has imbedded its mouth parts into your skin and becomes firmly attached until it is removed.

Dogs, cats, and humans are commonly affected by ticks. Since dogs frequent the areas tick live, they are the most affected. Ticks attach themselves to the skin in pursuit of a blood meal. Late spring, summer, and early fall are the times of the year we see most tick infestations. Some ticks can live up to two years, survive temperatures below freezing and lay up to 5,000 eggs.

Ticks are important not only to dogs and cats but to humans as well, for ticks can transmit diseases that can be harmful or even fatal to pets and humans. The most common tick transmitted diseases in our area are Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Ehrlichiosis in Humans, and Human Granulocytic Ehrlichosis. By far the most common condition seen in our area is Tick Paralysis. Some dogs are especially sensitive to a toxin (poison) found in the saliva of the tick. This toxin paralyzes the nervous system to the point that the dog can no longer walk. Most cases are treatable and recovery is usually uneventful. However, in some cases the dogs become over heated due to their inability to get out of the sun, or can be injured if near the road. Deaths have been seen as an indirect cause from Tick Paralysis.

Ticks are difficult to kill and many products that claim to have an effect on ticks do an ineffective job. Special tick collars, sprays and topically applied chemicals are used to control ticks. Before using any product against ticks it is best to consult our office or call your regular veterinarian for specific instructions.

Since humans can also get diseases from ticks it is best not to remove the tick with you bare fingers. The use of tweezers or special inexpensive tick removal devices are the best way to remove ticks. Removing ticks incompletely may allow portions of the mouth parts or head of the tick to remain attached to the skin. Infections and scar tissue that may never go away can be the result of ineffective tick removal.

wpe12D.jpg (1327 bytes)wpe12E.jpg (1040 bytes)wpe12F.jpg (1180 bytes)wpe131.jpg (1088 bytes)

                                                                                  cats.jpg (2151 bytes)