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By Mary Anne Donovan

Prevention and control of fleas and ticks

When summer comes, the living is easy, right? It's not always the case for your four-legged companions, and in fact, it can be the season of outright misery due to the arrival of fleas and ticks. Even more than making pets miserable, fleas and ticks can carry diseases that are potentially dangerous. Here is what you need to know if your pet has a tick or is infested with fleas.

About fleas

Simply put, fleas make pets itch, and an out-and-out infestation can even result in painful sores and hair loss. Fleas sometimes carry tapeworms, a parasite that attaches itself to the dog or cat's intestines. Also, some pets can have a serious allergic reaction, called allergy dermatitis, to the flea bites.

How to get rid of fleas

If your pet has fleas, then they are probably already in your home, nesting in carpets, upholstery, pet bedding, and even your bed. The elimination of these pests requires that the pet have a flea-bath at the same time that the home and affected areas are treated. These two activities need to be coordinated precisely or the effort may be unsuccessful. There are many products on the market for "de-fleaing" both the home and pets. However, it might be a good idea to call in professionals to do the job.

How to prevent fleas

Once the fleas are gone it's important to take preventive action so your pet never has to suffer from relentless itching again. During your pet's annual exam, your veterinarian will advise you as to the best products to use for your pet, which you can either buy from the vet or at pet stores. You can choose either oral and topical products, depending on your preference and what works best for your pet. A big plus: many flea control products are also effective against ticks.

About ticks

Ticks don't infest pets the same way, but they are every bit as annoying and potentially more dangerous. Ticks are the primary carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that affects wild animals, pets and humans alike. Besides Lyme disease, ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and canine ehrlichiosis, also very grave illnesses.

How to remove a tick

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, it's important to check for any small, hard bumps whenever he or she comes inside. If you do find a tick, grasp it with fine-tipped tweezers close to the skin and pull straight up with steady pressure. Once the tick is gone, clean the area with alcohol, iodine or soap and water.

How to prevent ticks

Most of the products used to prevent fleas also prevent ticks. It's also important to thoroughly check your pet when he or she returns in from the outdoors.

Fleas and ticks can wreak havoc and cause misery if they get a foothold on your pet or in your home. The best way to avoid them is to be diligent about using effective prevention products on a regular basis.

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