Preventing and Treating Fleas and Ticks
How Does My Dog And Home Become Infested?
It is possible to pick up fleas or ticks during most of the year and can thrive in our homes. Dogs and cats are at equal risk for fleas and ticks if they are indoor or outdoor. Your dog is both the home and food source for fleas and ticks. Fleas live in the coat of your dog and also in your dog’s bedding. Just like the adult flea, the adult tick will remain on your dog and eventually produce eggs while feeding from your dog. Ticks go through various life stages. Ticks will leave the host and "molt" (shed their outer skin) from one stage to the next. Ticks transmit the most disease to dogs and humans in the nymph and adult stages. If your dog is not on a preventative, it is possible for your dog and possibly your home to develop a serious infestation within just a few short weeks.
If not prevented or treated, fleas and ticks can cause a variety of potential health issues for dogs, including:
Skin irritation and infection
Rashes and red inflamed skin
Scabs and scales
Transmission of disease and illness to you and your dog
Psychological issues from constant scratching
Some fleas cause tapeworms in dogs
Fleas and ticks can also result in transmission of disease to humans through petting and sharing a living space with a host dog. This is why it is critical that you are aware of the health dangers that fleas and ticks can pose. It is important that you take measures to reduce the risk of an infestation. With the right plan and products, flea and tick infestation is easily preventable. Our veterinarians are here to help you develop a flea and tick prevention program that will best suit your needs and lifestyle.
Why You Should Avoid Over The Counter Flea Treatment For Dogs
There are many different flea and tick prevention products on the market. The amount of over-the-counter remedies has grown rapidly in the past 20 years. The influx of unapproved flea treatment for dogs in the early 2000's, and specifically spot-on treatments, led the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a warning in 2010 about possible toxic reactions to flea medicine for dogs. This resulted from a rash of dog fatalities attributed to the inappropriate use of some products.
Link to EPA webpage article from AVMA.org
As with any medication, there is some risk of adverse reaction to flea and tick treatment. These risks are extremely small. However, should you notice any symptoms or behavior changes, please call us. Our veterinarians would be happy to share with you their recommendations for the best flea and treatments for your dog at your next appointment.
Ticks On Dogs
Ticks feed on the blood of the host, and use tiny sharp teeth to embed themselves firmly into a dog's skin and tissue. Because they penetrate into the bloodstream, ticks can also spread blood-borne illnesses. Ticks cause welts and bruises on dogs around the bite location. It is also common to find the tick still attached. There are various methods for treating ticks on dogs, including:
We strongly recommend consulting the veterinarian at your next visit if you suspect a tick infestation. Although there are various remedies to treat ticks on dogs, it is essential to make sure the method you choose is safe and effective.
Fleas On Dogs
Fleas are very itchy and annoying and will primarily cause your dog to scratch. If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, the itch can be insatiable. Too much scratching can lead to skin infections, and fleas on dogs can possibly lead to the spread of various diseases. Fleas can be difficult to detect, because they are only about 1-2 millimeters in length, but there are several ways to check for fleas on your dog, including:
Looking for red, irritated skin on your dog's neck, belly or hindquarters
Comb your dog's fur with a flea comb from back to front for a good look at his or her skin.
The fleas may appear red or brown in color
If you see a speck that is moving, it is probably a flea
Different Types Of Flea And Tick Treatments For Dogs
Many years ago, flea collars, sprays, powders and shampoos were the maintain stay of flea control. These products are more toxic and less effective than the majority of products we now recommend. For this reason, we do not recommend any of these products. However, medicated shampoos can be very helpful in treating the secondary skin infections that your dog may have developed due to flea infestation.
Today, the recommended flea and tick treatments for dogs include:
Topical Flea Treatment
Our veterinarians would be happy to discuss specific flea and tick treatments that may be right for your dog at your next appointment.
What to do if your dog and home has fleas
When dealing with fleas it can be a costly and timely matter. Here at Perkins County Veterinary Hospital we recommend treating fleas on your dog and in your home at the same time. Using an oral or topical flea treatment on your dog at the same time as treating your house will stop a recurring flea infestation. For every flea you see on your dog there are many more living on the dog’s bedding. We recommend washing and drying all dog bedding. This includes your bedding if the dog sleeps in bed with you. Be sure to use the heat of the dryer to kill the egg ad larva stage of the fleas. For all the furniture; couches, chairs, rugs, and mattresses we recommend premise sprays. Be sure the sprays you are purchasing include an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator). This ensures that the spray kills all stages of the flea’s life cycle. Spray all over and under all surfaces that fleas might be living. When using the vacuum during a flea infestation be sure to use the flea spray to spray out the vacuum when finished. Fleas can live in your vacuum. Flea foggers (flea bomb) work well also as long as they have IGR. Please follow the safety instructions on the fogger label.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from the effects of fleas and ticks, we recommend scheduling a veterinary appointment. Our veterinarians and support staff have extensive experience treating fleas and ticks for dogs. We know flea and tick infestations can be frightening and overwhelming, but we assure you they are treatable.
Schedule an appointment today to discuss flea and tick treatment options for dogs with a veterinarian.