, Salem, MA


March 7, 2014

Vet Connection: Flea, tick myths you need to know


Flea Myth No. 5: There is no difference between flea products purchased from big box stores and your veterinarian.

Sometimes it is the same product and sometimes it is not. Unfortunately, this myth is the cause of many emergency room visits — and pet deaths. Grocery store products may contain older insecticides and chemicals. This could mean that they are simply less effective, but in some cases, these products have actually killed pets — especially cats. In an attempt to save money, well-meaning owners have used dog products on their cats, causing the cat to seizure uncontrollably — creating a potentially fatal emergency.

Tick Myth No. 1: My dog lives in the city so it won’t get a tick.

Brown dog ticks are an urban tick that can live the entire life cycle indoors at the pet store, boarding facility your home or the groomer. You dog can get a tick even if it never sets foot outside. This is why veterinarians advise year-round application of tick and flea preventative.

Tick Myth No. 2: Ticks do not survive the winter.

Some species of ticks are able to go for 12 months without a blood meal. Lyme disease ticks (Eastern and Western black-legged ticks) feed on animals as larva, nymphs and adults. Larva prefer small mammals such as mice. Nymphs and adults prefer large mammals such as deer, dogs and humans. Nymphs are known to survive in the cold New England winter. In fact if you do see a tick outdoors between September and March it is highly likely that it is a Lyme disease spreading tick.

Tick Myth No. 3: Ticks transmit disease as soon as they touch your pet.

Ticks can’t transmit disease until they have cemented their mouthparts into the skin. This takes about four hours. They don’t transmit Lyme disease bacteria until they have had a blood meal — about 24 to 48 hours. By then the Lyme disease organisms have changed their surface proteins and enter the mammal’s body.

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