Fleas are a parasite that we have dealt with for many years. Your pet can easily pick them up in the warm months from being outside, and once they come inside, they will live very happily in the house even during the coldest of months. Even pets who do not go outside are at risk for getting fleas, as you can even bring fleas inside on your clothing! Ticks are becoming a growing concern here in our region. Several years ago we rarely saw ticks; however, with changing climates and more migration of wild animals ticks are a very commonly seen parasite. The outdoor temperature only needs to be 4 degrees Celsius for ticks to be active, so it is possible to see them year-round. Our biggest concern with ticks is the transfer of potentially serious illnesses from the tick to its host, especially Lyme disease.
How can you tell if your dog has fleas & ticks?
If your pet has fleas you often may not notice until there is an infestation! You may not see the actual flea, but you will likely see the fecal material of the fleas which looks like small black pieces of dirt which are often noticed along the skin on the back. If your pet has an infestation and especially if he or she is allergic to the fleas you may see fur loss and skin irritation. Ticks burrow their mouth into the skin of their host while their body days on the surface of the skin. Ticks can be quite small, even the size of a sesame seed, though they will grow as they engorge with blood. They can attach anywhere, but you will often find them around the head and neck of your pet.
How do you prevent fleas & ticks in dogs?
Years ago we relied on shampoos and powders to control fleas and ticks, but thankfully we have much better products now that will prevent these unwanted critters! We’ve learned a lot about the flea life cycle which has helped produce products that help break the flea life cycle to prevent and control infestations. Some products for fleas and ticks are applied to the skin monthly while others may be available in tablet form. Your veterinarian can help you decide which product is right for your pet.
What are the treatment options for ticks in dogs?
There are several different treatment options – some oral, some topical. The right product for your dog will depend on different factors which your veterinarian can discuss.