Dog Flea and Tick
Prevention and Treatment of Dog Fleas and Ticks
If you have pets long enough, you're bound to experience trouble with fleas and ticks. These pesky dog parasites transmit diseases and can cause a variety of skin issues for your dog. In the veterinary field, we want to ensure that dogs are protected in the safest, most effective ways.
Talk to your veterinarian about dog flea and tick prevention options that will work best for you and your pet.
Fleas on Dogs
Fleas are tiny parasites that are roughly 1-2 millimeters in length. They hop onto your dog and will spend the rest of their lives there until they get killed or die a natural death. One of the biggest problems with fleas is how rapidly they can reproduce. A single flea can produce 25-50 eggs in a single day. If your dog has fleas, it's possible for your house to become infested rather quickly. Fleas will bite your dog - ingesting a blood meal - which fuels them to produce more eggs.
Ticks on Dogs
Your dog can pick up ticks simply from walking in tall grass. These parasites are around 4-6 millimeters long and attach themselves to your dog's body to ingest a blood meal. They will stay attached until they become engorged with blood. Ticks go through several life stages before they become an adult that feeds on your dog's blood. Nymph stages are only about a millimeter long, and they will drop off of the dog and molt before coming back to the dog or another mammal (such as you or your family members!). Like a flea, ticks can produce many eggs and infest your home, so it’s important to get the ticks off or killed before they can reproduce.
Common Parasite Problems in Dogs
Fleas and ticks are troublesome parasites. In addition to feeding off your dog, they can carry a variety of diseases. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fleas can also transmit diseases, but that occurs less commonly than with ticks.
Your dog can experience other health issues from fleas and ticks. Both can cause dermatologic problems with the skin, although fleas are the bigger offender in this area. Your dog can become very itchy from the bite of a single flea, not to mention when there are multiple ones crawling around on your dog's body.
Dogs don't typically notice ticks on their body - especially once they have bitten and attached - but those bite sites can still become irritated or even infected.
Diagnosing Fleas and Ticks on Dogs
The main way to determine if your dog has fleas or ticks is by simply going through the hair coat. You can use a flea comb - which has tiny teeth to pick up fleas and flea dirt - to comb through the hair. While you're looking through the coat for fleas, you might notice small bits that look like black sand. This is flea dirt, or the digested blood from fleas.
Ticks are a bit larger, sometimes up to roughly the size of a raisin. It's rare that you find them moving across your dog. Usually, you see them when they're already attached and feeding. If you're not sure if your dog has a flea or tick, it's important to get them to your veterinarian for an exam.
It can be hard to find fleas and ticks in your pet's coat, particularly if they have a long, thick coat of hair. It also depends on the color of your pet. It's certainly easier to see fleas on a dog with white hair than it is on a dog with black hair. Your veterinarian’s experience in diagnosing fleas and ticks makes them the best resource if you’re unsure.
Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs
There are a wide variety of products available on the market to treat and help prevent flea and tick infestations. For example, your veterinarian might prescribe a pill that your dog only has to take once every three months. It then goes to work, killing both fleas and ticks for up to three months. There are also topical flea and tick prevention products and other oral products available on the market.
Speak With Your Veterinarian About Flea and Tick Prevention For Your Dog
There are so many choices for flea and tick prevention products on the market that it can be overwhelming for you to pick one that's going to be effective for your dog. Talk to your veterinarian to see what they recommend for your pet's exposure risk and lifestyle, as well as how easy it will be for you to administer the product. After all, an oral product won't do much for a dog that won't take pills.
Reach out to a veterinarian near you to find out the best method of flea and tick prevention and/or treatment for your faithful, furry friend.