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Preventing and Treating Fleas and Ticks for Dogs

How does my Dog pick up Fleas and Ticks?

Fleas and ticks are a source of annoyance and potential health threat in every part of the US. While the seasons will affect the activity of these insects, it is possible to pick up fleas or ticks during most of the year. This is especially true because these insects can thrive in our homes. Dogs and cats which spend time outdoors are at equal risk of picking up fleas. While not as common, fleas and ticks can also enter homes from visiting pets and on people's clothes.

How do my Dog and Home Become Infested?

Your dog is both the home and food source for fleas and ticks. Once a flea gets on your dog, it will remain there until it is killed by a flea product or dies naturally. Just like the adult flea, the adult tick will remain on your dog and eventually produce eggs while feeding from your dog. Ticks however, go through various life stages. Ticks will leave the host and "moult" from one stage to the next. Ticks transmit the most disease to dogs and humans in the nymph and adult stages. If your dog is not on a preventative or product to kill fleas and ticks, it is possible for dog and possibly your home to develop a serious infestation within just a few short weeks.

If not prevented or treated, fleas and ticks can cause a variety of potential health issues for dogs, including:

  • Skin irritation and infection
  • Rashes and red inflammed skin
  • Scabs and scales
  • Transmission of disease and illness to you and your dog
  • Psychological issues from constant scratching

Fleas and ticks can also result in transmission of disease to humans through petting and sharing a living space with a host dog. This is why it is critical that you are aware of the health dangers that fleas and ticks can pose. It is important that you take measures to reduce the risk of an infestation. With the right plan and products, flea and tick infestation is easily preventable. Our veterinarians are here to help you develop a flea and tick prevention program that will best suit your needs and lifestyle.

How to Identify Ticks on Dogs

Ticks feed on the blood of the host, and use tiny but sharp teeth to embed themselves firmly into a dog's skin and tissue. Because they penetrate into the bloodstream, ticks can also spread blood-borne illnesses. The larvae and nymph stage of the tick are very small and can easily be missed. The adult tick is about 3mm and is visible to most. The larvae and nymph are about half that size, and difficult to identify.

Ticks cause welts and bruises on dogs around the bite location. It is also common to find the tick still attached.

There are various methods for treating ticks on dogs, including:

  • Spot-On Treatments
  • Oral Medications
  • Tick Collars

How to Identify Fleas on Dogs

Fleas can be difficult to detect because they are only about 1-2 millimeters in length. They are very itchy and annoying, and will primarily cause your dog to scratch. If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, the itch can be insatiable. Too much scratching can lead to skin infections, and fleas on dogs can possibly lead to the spread of various diseases.

There are several ways to check for fleas on your dog, including:

  • Looking for red, irritated skin on your dog's neck, belly, or hindquarters
  • Combing your dog's hair from back to front for a good look at his or her skin. Flea combs are available at pet stores, but any fine-toothed comb will do
  • The fleas may appear red or brown in color
  • If you see a speck that is moving, it's probably a flea
  • Presence of flea dirt – brown/black flakes on the skin that dissolve on damp paper. This is flea feces and is a sign of flea infestation

Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs

Flea and tick treatments for dogs include:

  • Oral Tablets: These are a great choice for both prevention and treatment of fleas and ticks, while being safe for both your dog and your family
  • Spot-On Flea Treatments: There are many different spot-on flea treatments with varying effectiveness and different spectrums of use
  • Tick Collars: Tick collars are occasionally recommended based on your dog's lifestyle

We recommend consulting with your dog's veterinarian before administering any flea and tick medication. We would be happy to discuss specific flea and tick treatments that may be right for your dog at your next appointment.

Schedule an Appointment for your Dog today!

If you suspect your dog is suffering from the effects of fleas and ticks, we recommend scheduling a veterinary appointment immediately. Our veterinarians and support staff have extensive experience treating fleas and ticks for dogs. We know flea and tick infestations can be frightening and overwhelming, but we assure you they are treatable.

Schedule an appointment today to discuss flea and tick treatment options for dogs with a veterinarian.

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