Preventing and Treating Fleas and Ticks on Dogs
Fleas and Ticks on Dogs
In our latest series of blogs, we are focusing on common parasitic problems that affect our dogs. Fleas and ticks on dogs are not uncommon, and we have researched the best ways of preventing and treating them. This 5 minute flea and tick treatment for dogs will come handy for all dog lovers.
What are Fleas?
Fleas are tiny little blood sucking parasites! They can cause a real nuisance to dogs, and owners of course.
There are 4 stages to a flea life cycle.
Egg → Larva → Pupa → Adult Flea
A full life cycle can be variable, but usually is around 3-6 weeks. As an adult flea can lay hundreds of eggs in just a few days, their numbers can multiply very quickly if the environment is right for them.
Fleas have strong hind legs and jump onto your pet from another dog or the environment, where the adult fleas lay their eggs. Wherever your dog goes, he will shed the fleas/eggs around. Fleas are most active during summer.
It is of course important to know about the life cycle of the flea so we know how to prevent and treat them, and also that it is not just your dog you are treating, but your home too.
What Problems Do Fleas Cause?
You will probably first notice your dog has fleas by scratching and gnawing at himself. You may even notice bites on yourself. You may see a live flea or more often their faeces. At worst case scenario, fleas can caise a ‘flea allergy dermatitis’, anaemia, and potentially tapeworm as fleas can carry the tapeworm larva. They are a nasty, unpleasant little problem!
- Many flea treatment products are effective at preventing fleas and are safe for your dog. Different products need using at different intervals so ensure you are treating effectively.
- To help prevent fleas and them from returning, you may need to treat your home and keep doing so (especially if your dog has already had fleas), for some time.
- Try and keep your dog away from environments where fleas may be more numerous. For example fencing the garden/yard to keep wildlife at bay, keeping the garden low on vegetation as fleas (and ticks discussed later) prefer such areas.
How To Treat a Flea Infestation on Your Dog
To treat an active flea infestation, you need to treat all household pets and the house.
- Choose a suitable flea treatment for your dog.
- Worm your dog also due to the risk that fleas may pass on the tapeworm larvae.
- Use a household flea treatment that can kill eggs and larvae. Be aware if the spray contains permethrin that it is toxic to cats, aquatic life and birds.
- Hoover all the furniture, skirting boards and carpets in the home. If you have a hoover with a bag, change with each use.
- Regularly wash bedding
What are Ticks?
When we lived in rural North Yorkshire, it wasn’t fleas we had a problem with. However I have personally removed several ticks from my dogs. Ticks, like fleas, are also blood sucking parasites. They are arachnids (8-legged), and visible when they are full of their blood meal. They drop or climb onto your dog, rather than jumping like fleas.
Ticks are more common in wooded or grassy areas, and most frequent between spring to autumn.
What Problems do Ticks Cause?
Ticks can cause Lyme Disease. This is a serious bacterial infection that can manifest in dogs, humans and cats less commonly.
Lyme disease can cause the following symptoms in dogs:
- Anorexia (loss of appetite)
- Going lame
- Swollen joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Kidney problems (glomerulonephritis)
Lyme disease needs treating with antibiotics. You need to seek treatment from a vet.
You can use tick treatments that repel or kill a tick when it tries to attach. This will effectively prevent ticks from causing problems to your dog.
Asking your vet about the best treatment is a good course of action.
The treatment we have always used for preventing fleas and ticks was Frontline Spot On Dog. In fact, until doing my research for this blog, it was the only brand I knew of! Nowadays, you can actually get it without prescription, and it is easily available online. There are other treatments though, do your research or speak to your vet.
A tick, if left, will attach to the dog and feed for a few days then fall off. It is during this interval that it could transmit a disease to your dog. If you see a tick, it needs to be removed.
The main concern when removing a tick is not to leave the head parts in the dog, or squeeze it and release blood back into the dog which could be harbouring disease.
To effectively remove a tick, you need to twist and pull. You can get a tick removal tool to do this effectively, but I’d advise getting a vet to show you how first. If you’re not confident about trying yourself, it’s safer to get to the vet.
Burning or suffocating ticks will not prevent disease from transmitting to your dog.
Fleas and ticks can be a worrying, frustrating nuisance for you and your dog. They can pass on disease and should be taken seriously. However they can be prevented and effectively treated with the measures above. Don’t despair, we’ve all been there!