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Flea and tick prevention for pets

Is your dog or cat scratching all the time? Or maybe shaking his head or chewing her paw? Sounds like it’s time to check for fleas, ticks and other external parasites. It’s important for pet owners to take external parasites seriously since a tick or flea infestation can cause everything from mild discomfort, to sores and hair loss, to serious infections.

By taking flea and tick prevention steps and treating your pet when needed, you can reduce the chances of a flea and tick infestation. Here’s what you need to know to help keep your pets safe, healthy and comfortable.

What do fleas and ticks look like?

What do fleas look like? Fleas are dark brown and about the size of a sesame seed. They’re easiest to spot on areas where your pet has less hair, such as the belly and inner limbs. How to check for ticks? Ticks are easily visible and most likely to be found around your pet’s ears, neck, face and under the tail. Groom your pet regularly and check your pet’s body and coat for signs of external parasites. A flea comb can help you find fleas and the debris they leave behind, known as flea dirt.

Where do fleas and ticks live?

Fleas tend to thrive in warm, humid areas, while ticks are most often found in wooded areas, tall grassy areas, brush, shrubs and prairies. Depending on where you live, fleas and ticks may be a seasonal or year-round threat to your pet. Your pet may also pick up external parasites from rodents that may come into your yard, as well as humans, who may unknowingly bring ticks indoors on their clothing. Make it a habit to regularly inspect your pet for fleas and ticks after camping or hiking trips, or extended time spent outside.

Treat your pet for fleas and ticks as soon as possible

Contact your veterinarian if you find fleas or ticks on your pet or notice symptoms like excessive scratching, licking, open sores or areas of hair loss. In addition to helping your pet feel better, early flea and tick treatment can help reduce the spread of ticks and fleas and may reduce the risk of recurring infestations.

Keep in mind that protecting your pets from external parasites is not a one-size fits all solution. Flea and tick treatment options are based on individual factors like your pet’s age, breed, weight, lifestyle and health history. Your vet can help recommend flea and tick treatment products and plans that are both safe and effective for your pet.

Practice flea and tick prevention

Make it a habit to brush and bathe your pet regularly. Talk to your vet about the best preventive options for your pet’s needs. Flea and tick control may involve prescription or over-the-counter treatments, such as natural oils, repellant collars, topical applications and sprays.

Protect your home from fleas and ticks — inside and out

Prevention starts with reducing the presence of fleas and ticks in your pet’s environment. Thoroughly clean your pet’s bedding, human bedding and other areas of your house where pests frequently lurk, such as carpets and furniture. Outdoors, mow your lawn frequently and consider treating your yard, which may help prevent future infestations.

Remember that you can use the CareCredit credit card to pay for services and products at participating veterinary practices. Use our Acceptance Locator or download the CareCredit Mobile App to find a nearby veterinary practice or retailer that accepts the CareCredit credit card.

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