By Heather Harner
We all know that fleas and ticks cause a lot of harm to our beloved pets, but how much do you really know about these dangerous parasites? Here are a few scary facts about fleas and ticks to keep you informed and knowledgeable.
Fact 1: A female flea will lay at least 20 eggs a day. Half of the eggs will be female, which can eventually produce about 20,000 new fleas in 60 days.
Fact 2: Fleas can jump 110 times their length. A flea jumping several inches is like an average-sized human jumping over a 30 story building.
Fact 3: When a flea jumps, it accelerates 20 times faster than a space shuttle.
Fact 4: Fleas have been on the earth for at least 165 million years.
Fact 5: Winter does not always kill fleas.
When a flea jumps on your pet, it will start feeding within 5 minutes and may suck blood for up to 2 1/2 hours. Female fleas are the most greedy, consuming up to 15 times their own body weight in blood. A single flea can live on your dog or cat for almost 2 months!
Fact 6: Ticks are arachnids, which means they are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than insects.
Fact 7: Ticks do not fly, jump or fall from trees. Since they don’t fly, the easiest way for them to get on your pet is when they’re walking through grass.
Fact 8: In many hard ticks, the saliva also acts like cement, helping to keep the tick in place and making it harder for a person to remove it.
Fact 9: There are more than 850 species of ticks on earth.
Fact 10: Bites from a Lone Star Tick can cause rare allergies to red meat in humans. Dogs can also develop this allergy and will react with itching, skin lesions and hair loss if their diets contain beef, lamb or pork.
If you spend time outdoors or have pets that go outdoors, you need to beware of ticks. Ticks are small bloodsucking parasites. Many species transmit diseases to animals and people. Some of the diseases you can get from a tick bite are Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Some ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see. Ticks may get on you if you walk through areas where they live, such as tall grass, leaf litter or shrubs.
Tick-borne diseases occur worldwide, including in your own backyard. To help protect yourself and your family, you should:
- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin
- Wear light-colored protective clothing
- Tuck pant legs into socks
- Avoid tick-infested areas
- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks you find
While outdoor pets are more prone, your dog or cat may be exposed to fleas or ticks anywhere: in your own backyard, on walks or even in your own home. When it comes to fleas and ticks, the faster you get rid of them, the better!