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Dr Amelia Bunker, Resident Veterinarian - Knose Pet Insurance

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Dr. Amelia Bunker

Dr. Amelia Bunker (BVSc), our resident veterinarian at Knose, blends her passion for animal care with her expertise in veterinary science. Her journey from mixed practice clinics to insurance expert motivates her dedication to animal welfare, both in her professional role and as a pet owner.

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Ticks and fleas aren’t just a nuisance for your pet, they can be fatal. Even if your pet is fortunate enough to escape Australia’s deadly paralysis tick, there are other types of parasites that can cause a range of health issues such as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), secondary skin infections or flea tapeworm. This underscores the importance of tick and flea treatments.

vet and pet owner with a cat being treated for ticks and fleas
Dogs should receive the best pet care possible especially if it can prevent life-threatening situations.

The good news is there are steps to protect your pet and help relieve the symptoms of parasites. For example, you should give your pet off-the-shelf tick and flea treatments like Simparica Trio to ward off parasites. Additionally, your vet can recommend other options to help manage external parasites.

When trying to get these insects to “bug off”, it’s critical to use methods that won’t worsen your pet’s irritated skin. For example, applying certain tick and flea treatments may worsen the existing symptoms and cause skin problems. It is important to talk to your vet to find the right tick and flea treatments for your pet if they suffer allergies or have existing skin issues.

How to safeguard your pet from ticks and fleas

1. Use APVMA-approved flea and tick products

It’s crucial to use only legitimate and safe products that meet the clinical standards established by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Remember the old saying that “prevention is better than cure.”

Several types of pet products for flea and tick prevention are available. Your first line of defense should include one of the following:

  • Chews
  • Spot-on tick and flea treatments
  • Collars

Chews in Australia have been developed specifically for local conditions. Popular chews include Simparica TrioBravecto and Nexguard Spectra. Consult your vet or the manufacturer’s website to determine how often you administer these as the frequency of administration will provide cover for different types of parasites, and remember that there are important differences between the safety of products between dogs and cats. If your pet has skin allergies, your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best product.

In addition to the main parasite defenses, you can augment your preventative protocol by using some of the following products:

  • Powders
  • Oils
  • Shampoos
  • Pet overalls, bandanas, blankets, and neck gaiters

Each of these products addresses the various health needs of your pet.. For example, topical oils may help relieve pain and itchiness from the bites of ticks and fleas, however, you should always consult with your veterinarian before using any topical treatments.

On the other hand, pet overalls offer substantial protection. They not only protect your pets from biting insects but also safeguard them from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

2. Bathe and groom your pets regularly

Simply washing and grooming your pet regularly may help prevent tick and flea infestations. It is important to check with your veterinarian the best product to use for your pets’ skin, as our pets have different skin to us! Soap is effective because it removes the external exoskeleton of the insect, rendering it vulnerable. But be careful not to overdo it. Dogs should not be washed more than twice a month unless your vet recommends it.

You can also use a fine-tooth flea comb to remove any critters you find on your pet. Then you can drop the ticks and fleas into a container of soapy water.

3. Treat all your household dogs at one time

This step can help prevent cross-infestation. During the flea season, September to February in Australia, you should also be especially vigilant. In many parts of Australia, this is the peak season, as flea prevalence can vary depending on the region and climate.

4. Regularly monitor your pets after walks

This step is especially crucial after strolling through bushland or grassy areas. Check your furry friend even if you’re using a tick preventative. Make sure to check particular body areas that are shown in our infographic below.

Infographic of common areas where ticks and fleas hide in dogs and cats

Inspect your pet’s skin and fur for bumps to check for ticks and fleas. Feel for lumps over their body. Once you feel any bumps, part the fur and check for ticks underneath.

Ticks may appear brown, black, or tan and tend to conceal themselves in the moist and warm regions of your pet.

5. Be cautious about “natural” and “herbal” products

These products may seem pet-friendly, but they can contain plants that cause allergic reactions in cats, dogs and humans. They may also not be as effective in preventing infestation as the APVMA-approved medicines.
Here are some specific plants to be wary of:

  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary

You might think these plants are generally healthier for pets than tick and flea treatments with chemical compounds. However, studies on the efficacy of these plants in treating dogs with ticks and fleas show that they aren’t as effective as APVMA-approved medicines.

If you try natural remedies, make sure to monitor your pet to determine how well tolerated the natural remedies are and ensure you always seek veterinary advice prior to using any of these products as some can be harmful to pets.

6. Remove discovered ticks and fleas as soon as possible

This step is essential to reduce the likelihood your pet will develop a secondary illness besides the bites themselves. Ticks may also release toxins, which can cause skin problems for your companion pet.

You can remove the tick using various methods. For example, use a tick removal tool or a pair of fine tweezers. You should also consider wearing gloves for the procedure. If you do manage to remove a tick, it is still important to seek veterinary advice to check your pet over for any early signs of tick paralysis (remember to pop the tick in a clean plastic container or jar and take it with you, so your vet can identify the type of tick).

If you’re unable to remove the tick, contact your veterinarian immediately. They’ll have the expertise and equipment to remove the tick effectively.

7. Clean your pet’s environment daily

Regularly clean and vacuum your home. Wipe down areas against which your pet’s body rubs. These areas include spaces between couch cushions and behind and under furniture. These steps may help end your parasite problem.

If your home has a severe flea infestation, consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner to steam clean your carpets. It’s a small cost to help protect your pet animals from the tiny bugs but remember to check with your veterinarian when it is safe for your pet and you to return home.

When washing beddings from a human or pet bed that your pet sleeps in, use soap and hot water.

Our approach to tick and flea prevention

When selecting tick and flea treatment for dogs, you have many options to get rid of the creepy crawlers.

While these parasites pose health risks, some flea and tick products with pharmaceutical ingredients can also be hazardous. For instance, certain products safe for dogs are toxic to cats.

As responsible pet owners, always rely on veterinary care to provide the best healthcare for your pet. Knose has developed pet care plans with input from vets to provide simple, stress-free pet care for a flat monthly fee. Plans also include an allowance for vaccinations, vet check-ups and more.

Sign up here to have flea, tick, and worming treatments delivered right when needed and to access the 24/7 Pet Health Hotline.

References

  1. Fight Fleas and Terminate Ticks
  2. Fleas and Their Control
  3. Keep Your Dog Safe From Fleas and Ticks With 10 Prevention Tips
  4. Fleas: Treatment & Prevention
  5. Flea Bites: What They Look Like, Symptoms & Treatment

Post by Knose Pet Insurance in collaboration with Casey Bloom