What is a Parasite?

As defined by Mr. Webstera parasite is an organism living in or on another organism with a dependence on that organism for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return. In the case of fleas and ticks, “those dirty little blood sucking ______!” You can fill in the blank. Your pets don’t like fleas and ticks, you don’t like fleas and ticks and, as vets, we despise fleas and ticks. Yuck!

These nasty parasites are not only gross, create havoc with your furry friends and house, but also can transmit many other diseases to you and your four-legged companions. One has to wonder why these critters even exist, other than just to create problems worse than having that irritating pebble in your shoe. The pebble problem is much easier to resolve.

However, there are some interesting facts about these parasites. Fleas have been around for over a million years. They have a four-stage life cycle and live off the blood of animals. “Dirty little blood suckers!” Fleas are wingless insects and get onto their hosts by jumping. In fact, they can jump some 8-12 inches high, which is over 150 times their own height. Wow, talk about being able to leap over tall building in a single bound! They can also jump more than 30,000 times without stopping and each time they jump they reverse direction. Maybe this is because they don’t have ears and are virtually blind. When they jump, they accelerate 50 times faster than the space shuttle. Wish they could go into space and stay there.

Fleas can also pull 160,000 times their own weight, which is like you pulling more than 2,500 buses. Olympic gold for sure. There are more than 2,000 species of fleas but, the Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common in the U.S. and is found on our dogs and cats. Female fleas are generally larger than males and can consume 15 times her body weight (in blood) on a daily basis. Glutton! She can also lay from 1,500-2,000 eggs in her lifetime. Talk about reproduction capacity.

The collective name for a group of fleas is called a swarm. You will get this right the next time you play Trivial Pursuit. While we want to eradicate these creeps, apparently the Europeans in the 16th century found fleas entertaining with the origination of flea circuses. Who has heard the game of “tiddlywinks”? In several European languages this actually translates as “the game of the flea.” Glad someone found something good and entertaining about this pest. Interesting, yes. Still a parasite that is annoying at the least and very real problem and disease threat to us and our pets.

Don’t leave your pets unprotected. PetArmor and SENTRY have an entire line of products to prevent this pesky enemy from invading your home.

Ticks are gross. But like you love your pets, ticks love them, too. Like fleas, ticks can transmit a number of potentially life threatening diseases. Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever being some of the most common. There are a host of other diseases these blood feeders transmit.

There are more than 800 species of ticks on Earth to date while there are two families of ticks (not the Smiths and the Jones) commonly known as the hard ticks and soft ticks. Most commonly in the U.S. a hard tick bites our pets and us. Ticks have anti-inflammatory and anesthetic compounds in their saliva that makes it less likely that their host even notices they are bitten. “Sneaky little blood sucking _____!” You get my sentiments on ticks as well.

The saliva of hard ticks contains other proteins that make it difficult for a host’s immune system to detect a threat. Hard ticks have long feeding sessions whereas soft ticks have several separate feeding sessions. And guess what gentlemen? Male ticks die right after mating. Talk about decreasing libido.

As with fleas, the best treatment for ticks is to prevent them from being a problem before they are just that, a problem. Fortunately, PetArmor and SENTRY Fiproguard products are available for both flea and tick prevention and treatment. Hooray! It is that easy to help ensure your pets and family don’t have to make war with these parasites. Did I say, “I hate these dirty, little, blood sucking, _______!”

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