Now that we’re in March and coming upon spring we’ll soon be deep in flea and tick season in many parts of the country. So how can you and your dog be prepared?
Why Being Prepared is Important
When it comes to fleas and ticks it’s important to be prepared not for the sake of being prepared, but because an infestation of these pests can adversely affect your dog’s overall health.
Among other things fleas and ticks are effective carriers for diseases and parasites which can be transmitted to your dog. Flea allergy dermatitis is one of these common ailments that comes with flea bites. In fact, each flea bite can cause minor skin irritation which then leads to the trademark scratching that you see in all of those flea medication commercials. In more serious cases some dogs have been found to be allergic to the saliva of fleas. This can cause much more intense irritation of the skin, itchiness, and even hair loss as a result of constant scratching. Fleas can also cause anemia in your dog because they take in 15 times their own weight. With anemia your dog may experience a dramatic drop in their red blood cells which can lead to pale gums and a lack of energy.
Ticks carry a host of diseases like Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, and in rare cases can cause tick paralysis. These are often known as vector-borne diseases and pose a very serious danger to your dog. Some of the symptoms of tick-borne illnesses can be loss of appetite, fever, joint swelling, and swollen lymph nodes. In fact, symptoms of these diseases often go unnoticed and by the time the diseases are caught it is often too late. This is why regular vet visits are also so important.
Be Prepared Around the Home
The best, most effective way to prepare for flea and tick season is to simply prevent an infestation to begin with.
If you live in a more rural area with tall grasses make sure to trim them back. Fleas and ticks thrive in long grasses and are more able to move around from place to place. Wild animals can often be carriers of both fleas and ticks so make sure to remove anything from your property that attracts them like open trash cans.
Additionally, if you walk your dogs daily or even occasionally be sure to avoid heavily wooded areas with tall grasses where fleas and ticks tend to hide. This will help minimize your dog’s exposure to the pests.
Another preventive measure is to use a year round flea and tick preventive whether it is oral or topical. These medications are by far the best way to prevent an infestation to begin with. Oral medications tend to work the best because it can’t be accidentally washed off like the topicals and won’t accidentally fall off like the collars. They are typically given once a month and easy to administer because they are flavored like treats. My two are given Nexgard once a month even though they are mostly indoor dogs and they absolutely love it! They think it’s an awesome treat. Talk to your vet about the best option for your dog and check out this chart from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to find out the flea and tick season in your state.
Give Your Dog a Bath
While an infestation of fleas or ticks is not a result of having a dirty dog, bathing your pup regularly can help keep the pests at bay. Poorly maintained coats that are matted and dirty tend to attract fleas and ticks as they are ideal breeding grounds for larvae. Plus, having a clean dog will make it much easier to spot if one of these pests has hitched a ride on your pooch.
What to Do If Your Dog Has Fleas or Ticks?
We all know that the best way to get rid of fleas and ticks is to prevent an infestation in the first place, but sometimes those pesky pests just can’t be avoided. So what do you do if your dog already has fleas or ticks?
Fleas are small, dark brown insects that are often a problem for most dog owners year round. If you spot fleas on your dog you can try some topical treatments to kill the fleas. There are special shampoos you can try that will help get the adult fleas and the larvae which is crucial because if the larvae are left on your dog they’ll eventually hatch and you’ll have the same problem all over again. Once the fleas have been killed and washed from your dog it is best to start your pup on a regular preventive flea and tick medication. If you are unsure of how to get rid of the fleas talk to your vet and find out their recommended method. And don’t forget to deep clean your house to eliminate any fleas that may be lurking in carpets, rugs, sofas, and bedding.
Ticks can be seen or felt on your dog. They often attach themselves around your dog’s head, neck, ears, or paws. Once you notice a tick on your pet it is best to remove it as soon as possible. The safest way to remove ticks is as follows:
- Skip the old wives tales of nail polish, alcohol, petroleum jelly, etc.
- Cover your hands with gloves.
- Grasp the tick with tweezers from the side by its head and close to the skin.
- Pull straight up without twisting and don’t squeeze or pop the belly.
- Wash the bite area with your hands.
If you’re ever unsure or afraid to remove the tick yourself call your vet and they’ll be able to assist you with the removal. They’ll also be able to test your dog for any diseases that might have been transmitted from the tick to your dog.
When in Doubt...
If you are ever unsure of how to prep for flea and tick season or notice one of these pests on your dog give your vet a call. They’ll be able to provide you with a lot of relevant information and work with you to find the best preventative treatment for you and your pup.
*The Woof Warehouse is not a specialist or expert in the health of dogs and cannot be held accountable for the health and wellness of your pet. We always recommend seeing your vet for the best care of your beloved pups.