As responsible pet parents, we love and care for our canine companions, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they’re in tip-top shape. One of the most common health risks for dogs, especially in the warmer months, is the threat of ticks and fleas.
Fleas and ticks cause our pooches to scratch and scratch. But they’re more than just an itchy annoyance for your beloved dog. These pests can also carry serious diseases . To ease your worries and equip you with the knowledge to protect your pup, we’ve put together an article on the best dog tick and flea prevention. Continue reading to learn more!
Ticks and Fleas: An Overview of the Pesky Parasites
What exactly are ticks and fleas? Both ticks and fleas are external parasites. They’re like unwanted hitchhikers that latch onto your dog’s skin and fur, then they feed off your pet’s blood. That’s enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies!
Fleas are tiny insects that jump around, biting your dog and causing them to itch. They move around pretty fast, and they can jump up to 100 times their own height. These wingless insects also multiply like crazy, laying eggs in your pet’s fur, which can then scatter around your home.
Fleas are known for transmitting the bubonic plague and tapeworms, among other nasties. They also bite humans, causing an itchy welt that often causes discoloration. Needless to say, they’re no pet parent’s favorite.
On the other hand, ticks are arachnids, so they’re in the same family as spiders and scorpions. These pests are a bit more sinister. Unlike fleas, they don’t jump around a lot. Instead, they wait on tall grass or brush until your unsuspecting pooch walks by. Then, they latch on for a blood meal.
They can hang around for days, growing bigger as they feed. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases to both humans and animals, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
How to Check Your Dog for Ticks and Fleas
Here’s how you can conduct a DIY check-up at home:
- Step 1: First, gather your tools. You’ll need a fine-toothed comb, a flea comb, a pair of tweezers, and a bowl of soapy water. Now, get your dog, and let’s get started.
- Step 2: Start by running your fingers through your dog’s fur, applying enough pressure to feel their skin. Look for tiny bumps or irregularities. Ticks can feel like small peas, while fleas are considerably smaller and harder to detect. They look like black specks and may leave some “flea dust,” reddish-brown dirt from their excretions.
- Step 3: Next, use your comb to sift through your dog’s fur. Don’t forget to check behind the ears, under the collar, and underbelly—these are favorite hangout spots for ticks and fleas.
- Step 4: If you find a tick, use your tweezers to grip it as close to your dog’s skin as possible and pull it straight out. Be gentle, steady, and do not twist or jerk the tick, which might leave part of it in the skin. Drop the tick into the bowl of alcohol or soapy water to kill it.
Note: Fleas are trickier to remove. They are super fast and will likely try to jump away as soon as you find them. If you spot one, quickly dunk the comb into the soapy water and run it through your pet’s fur. The soap will immobilize and kill the fleas.
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev
Dog Flea and Tick Prevention: The Best Tips
Here are some great tips to keep your pup tick- and flea-free:
Keep Your Home Clean
Fleas and ticks love nesting in carpets, rugs, and bedding, waiting for an unsuspecting host. Regular vacuuming and washing pet bedding can significantly reduce the number of these pests in your home.
For an extra layer of protection, use a home spray or fogger designed to kill fleas and ticks. Just keep your pup out of the area when you do so!
Maintain Your Home’s Surroundings
The work doesn’t stop at home. These parasites enjoy hanging out in your backyard, particularly in tall grasses and bushes. Regularly mowing your lawn and trimming overgrown vegetation can reduce the chances of your dog picking up unwelcome passengers during playtime.
Groom Your Dog Regularly
Regular grooming is another excellent way to keep fleas and ticks away. Brush your dog’s coat daily with a flea comb to remove any pests that may have jumped on board. Bathing your dog with a flea and tick shampoo can also help eliminate these pests, especially during the warmer months, which are peak flea and tick seasons.
Consider Dietary Supplements
Some natural remedies, like adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s diet, can also help prevent fleas and ticks. However, this method is controversial and not universally agreed upon by experts, so it’s essential to consult your vet first.
Use Flea and Tick Preventive Products
Many flea and tick prevention products are on the market, such as oral medications, topical treatments, shampoos, and even flea collars. Discuss options with your vet and choose the safe that best fits your dog’s needs.
Photo by Gustavo Fring
What to Do If Your Dog Has Ticks or Fleas
If your dog has ticks or fleas, the first thing you should do is contact your vet. They’ll likely suggest a specific treatment plan depending on the severity of the infestation. They may offer topical treatments, oral medications, or in some cases, a special shampoo or dip.
While treating your dog, it’s equally important to tackle the source of the infestation – your home! Fleas and ticks can live in your carpets, furniture, and even your garden. Vacuum your house thoroughly, wash all pet bedding in hot water, and consider hiring a professional exterminator or using a household flea and tick spray.
Next, remember that flea and tick treatments aren’t a one-time thing. Even after you’ve handled the initial infestation, it’s best to keep up with regular preventative measures to avoid a re-infestation. Monthly flea and tick preventatives are excellent for keeping these parasites at bay.
Maintaining your dog’s overall health is also another great way to help them fight off these parasites. A healthy diet and regular grooming can strengthen your dog’s immune system and skin. Brushing your dog regularly helps keep their coat in top shape and allows you to check for new pests frequently.
Why You Should Have Regular Vet Check-ups
Regular veterinary check-ups can significantly help in managing fleas and ticks in dogs. The vet can perform a thorough physical examination to determine if your dog is infested with fleas or ticks.
They have the expertise to spot these parasites, which can be difficult to see with the naked eye, especially in the early stages of infestation. Moreover, vets can provide professional advice and recommend suitable preventive measures tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Tick and flea prevention isn’t just a one-time thing—it’s an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and attention. It combines multiple steps to provide the best protection for your furry friend.
By following this guide and maintaining regular preventative measures, you can ensure that your doggo stays tick and flea-free!If you want to talk to a vet, PetPal is here to help. Our friendly vets are dedicated to helping your pets stay happy and healthy. Book an online vet consultation or home visit today!