If your cats or dogs have been scratching or biting themselves more often than usual, this could be a sign of fleas or ticks. To help your pets, it’s best to check these spots right away not only for the well-being of your pets, but because these critters can cause serious issues in your home.

How do I spot fleas and ticks on my pets?

Depending on your pet’s coat length and color, fleas can be difficult to find with the naked eye. Because fleas are so hard to find, you might need to rely on the presence of flea dirt to determine whether or not your pet has fleas. Flea dirt is actually flea poop, and it appears as specks of dirt on your pet’s skin. Fleas multiply extremely quickly, so it’s important to treat the infestation as soon as possible.

Does your indoor cat like to hang out in windows? Fleas are everywhere, and will attach themselves to cats who sit in front of screened windows.

To spot ticks, comb through their fur with your fingers. Press gently so you can feel any bumps on the skin. Ticks can be as small as a pinhead or as large as a raspberry. Don’t forget to check their paws (including between their toes), inside their ears, and around the face and neck.

Once a tick is embedded into a pet’s skin, it might look like a raised mole or dark skin tag. Since it can be hard to distinguish from a small bump, you’ll have to look very closely for telltale signs it’s a tick such as the hard, oval body and eight legs.

How to treat fleas

Fighting a flea infestation on your pet can be emotional and a lot of work. Treat your pet with a fast-acting oral flea treatment recommended by your vet. Then use a flea comb — dip comb in a mixture of dish soap and water to kill the remaining fleas on the comb. And follow up with a flea shampoo.

But really, it’s best to use a flea preventive year-round. These are available from your vet and most come in simple chews that dogs actually like to take, thanks to their flavoring.

They also come in easy-to-use drops you apply between your cat’s shoulders. Your vet will work with you to choose the prevention method that works best for you and your pet. Keep in mind that preventives work best when used regularly year-round; simply applying for one or two months can leave your pet unprotected.

How to treat ticks

Because ticks can carry diseases that could harm your pets, it’s best to keep them protected all year long. Once you’ve spotted the tick, put on a pair of gloves and get a pair of sterilized tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible (without pinching your pet). Pull it out slowly in a straight, steady motion. Don’t jerk; anything left behind could lead to an infection.

It’s also a good idea to have your vet remove the tick, especially if the process might make you nervous. Not only do you want to avoid infection, but you also have to be very careful not to harm your pet with the tweezers.

At PetWow, we believe in promoting a healthy lifestyle for our furry friends, that’s why we work hard to create a positive experience for them during their visits. More than 30,000 pet parents trust the health and grooming of their best friends to us, and we take that care seriously. To schedule your appointment, call us today at 513-738-9691 to schedule your appointment at our Highland Heights or Florence Kentucky locations, or for At Home Veterinary Care. For more pet care tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn!