Dog owners have been doing battle with
fleas and ticks for as long as dogs and people have been living together.
These parasites are in so many environments that even pets that rarely
leave the home should be considered at potential risk for picking up
fleas and/or ticks. Thankfully, controlling these nasty parasites has
never been easier.
"Owners should examine their dogs on
a regular basis for fleas and ticks."
Why Should Pet Owners Be Concerned?
Fleas and ticks are not just a nuisance.
A flea-infested dog may scratch and bite himself until he is covered
with red, oozing sores. When a large number of fleas are present,
they suck a lot of blood from the body, and particularly if the pet
is very small or young, a potentially life-threatening anemia may develop.
Flea bites can pass very serious diseases from one animal to another,
but ticks are even better at disease transmission. Rocky Mountain spotted
fever, ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease are just a few of the diseases
that ticks can transmit.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Fleas Or Ticks?
Owners should examine their dogs on
a regular basis. Use your hands to part the fur so you can see
directly down to the skin. Look over the dog's whole body, but
pay special attention to the area around the base of the tail, back
of the hind legs, around the face and in the armpits and groin.
Here is what to look for:
Fleas are smaller than a
grain of rice. They have a body that is taller than it is wide,
and can move very quickly, often dashing across the skin or leaping
away when disturbed. Flea feces, also called flea dirt, looks
like coffee grounds and is often visible even when fleas are not.
Through self-grooming, dogs may remove much of the evidence of a flea
infestation. If your dog is itchy, fleas are still a strong possibility
even if you don't see them on your pet.
Most ticks are significantly
larger than fleas, although some species and immature ticks can be quite
small. They are often found with their mouthparts firmly embedded
in the skin. A tick that has fed on blood will look like a plump
bean, rather than having the relatively flat appearance of a tick that
has not yet eaten.
Treating Flea & Tick at Home
If you find ticks on your dog, they
need to be removed. Use a pair of tweezers or tick pliers to firmly grasp the tick as close to the skin
as possible and pull with steady pressure. Flush the tick down
the toilet and wash your equipment and hands immediately.
Dogs that have fleas or a lot of ticks
on them require a more generalized approach. Sprays, shampoos and dips are all useful, but they don't do much to
prevent the parasites from coming back in the future. The best
way to keep fleas and ticks off of your dog for a month or more is to
use one of the longer acting products, like Frontline Plus or K9
Advantix II. If your problem is limited only to fleas, Capstar, Advantage II, and Program are all also good choices, or you can use
a flea-only product and add a Preventic collar to deal with ticks. Revolution, Sentinel and Advantage
Multi combine flea control
with protection against other parasites including heartworms. Collars that claim to control both fleas and ticks are not as effective
as some of the other choices now available to dog owners.
Fleas can quickly start breeding inside
the home and move from pet to pet so all animals in a household need
to be treated. Vacuuming carpets, floors and upholstery and washing
pet bedding is very helpful and usually sufficient if an effective monthly
flea control product is also used. If more environmental control
is necessary premise
and yard sprays and foggers are available.
Whatever type of flea and tick control
you choose, carefully follow the manufacturer's directions to maximize
its effectiveness and safety. Cats are extremely sensitive to
some of the chemicals used to treat parasites. Never use a product
that does not clearly state that is safe for cats on or around these
Your veterinarian can help you determine
which flea and tick control product is right for your dog. If
your pet has an especially severe infestation, or is acting sick in
any way, bring him in for an exam.
The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition.
This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not
be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of
your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.