If you're a pet owner, it's always a good time to brush up on how to prevent ticks in dogs and cats, but especially during flea and tick season. Even if you think you're an expert at warding off ticks and fleas, a recent study warns that pet parents aren't always as prepared as they think they are to protect their furry friends — and the statistics show it.
The May 2018 study of 1,300 pet owners, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Animal Health, found that 33 percent of pet owners do not give their pets regular flea and tick medication, and 48 percent don't bring their pets in for routine exams to specifically protect against these harmful parasites. Although 61 percent of these pet owners described themselves as "very knowledgeable" about fleas and ticks, 38 percent were unable to identify a single symptom linked to Lyme disease, a harmful bacterial infection spread by fleas and ticks that can cause dogs to experience arthritis, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. In the worst-case scenario, Lyme disease can be fatal to pups if left untreated.
On top of being uninformed about the dangers of fleas and ticks, many pet owners in the study also believed in misconceptions about them. More than a quarter of the study's participants thought that the myth of fleas and ticks only being active during the spring and summer was true. Only half of the study's participants said they treated their pets all year long for tick prevention. If you realize that you haven't been fully protecting your precious pet to the fullest extent, you're not alone. But the good news is that you can inform yourself and start taking steps to prevent ticks in dogs and cats, no matter the time of the year.
How to Prevent Ticks and Fleas in Dogs and Cats
- Talk to your vet as soon as possible about the best plan to protect your pet year-round. When you take your pet in for routine visits, make sure you ask about any updates on your protection method. Moving forward, ask your vet to do a tick check at every exam.
- Be sure to read the labels on your pet protection products closely. Many forms of this medication need to be given to pets on a monthly basis. Some newer flea and tick prevention products, such as the prescription medication BRAVECTO, can offer 12-week-long protection. Whatever the instructions are, you want to follow them to a T.
- Check both your furry and human family members regularly for ticks. This is especially important during the spring and summer months, particularly if you live by or spend a lot of time around a heavily wooded area — but don't skimp on checkups throughout the rest of the year.
- If you ever find a tick on your pet, remove it immediately.
- Visit a doctor or vet ASAP if you suspect anyone in your family — furry or human — has come into contact with fleas and ticks.