It all starts with an itch. A little scratch behind the ears. A rub up against a tree. These are telltale signs that your dog has adopted new playmates in the form of fleas. You may not notice at first, but if your dog is scratching an incessant itch, get close and personal and see what is lurking in their fluffy fur. Finding and curing fleas and ticks is one of the perks of being a pup pawrent. This joins the list of other perks likebrushing your dog’s teethor cleaning up their puke after a car journey. Like many things in life, prevention is easier than finding a cure. So, to reduce your chances of catching these critters when out exploring, we have created this handy guide.
Fleas and ticks on dogs
Stop what you are doing and listen up. Did you know that1 in 7 dogs are currently carrying fleas? This is the astonishing finding from a research trial carried out by the University of Bristol. That means on your next trip to the dog park your chances of your dog catching fleas are high. But this doesn’t even come close to the31% increase in the chances of ticks infesting your home if you have a dog. Both fleas and ticks carry diseases that can cause serious health complications if unnoticed. That’s why it is SO important to stay on top of regular grooming routines and to never miss out on your vet-prescribed flea and tick treatments.
How to spot a flea or a tick from a mile away
For first-time pet pawrents knowing what to look for can be daunting. But don’t panic, you will soon get the hang of identifying these unwelcome bugs. Both fleas and ticks are parasites that feed off the blood of their host (your dog). Both can cause a number of diseases if left untreated such as Lyme Disease, and anemia, and can transmit other parasites like tapeworms. Yum! But here is the 411:
Are almost invisible to the naked eye
They have six legs and antennae and are wingless
Their preference is to spend their entire life on one host (up to three months)
Fleas jump on and off their host after feeding which means that your dog can catch them anywhere
Gross fact- fleas can consume 15 times their body weight in blood
Ticks are spider-like insects, large enough to be seen by the naked eye
They have eight legs and no antennae
Ticks bury their head beneath the skin of their host to feed on their blood
They can live for up to three years
You can find ticks in shrubland, forests, grass and any surface that your dog is likely to brush up against
Unlike fleas, ticks survive in cold temperatures
Signs your dog has adopted a pet flea or tick
Your pup may have a strong parental streak but let’s face it, fleas and ticks don’t make the cuddliest pets. You may suspect that your fur-baby is hosting an unwanted guest when you see them scratching or biting their skin. This is common as fleas give nasty bites and their saliva causes an allergic reaction. Yet there is more evidence to prove that you may be in the presence of fleas and ticks when…
Your dog develops a sudden fever, and fatigue, and loses his appetite - fleas and ticks carry a world of bacteria and disease with them. If you notice that your dog is out of sorts, inspect its skin to see if you can see signs of infestation.
The fur around the neck and tail becomes thinner and lackluster - fleas love to nestle in between the thick layers of fur in these areas. Their bites irritate your pup and cause them to scratch which results in hair loss.
Red bites, usually in groups of three are a common sign that your dog has fleas.
Little flecks of black dirt on bedding, the sofa, and in your dog’s bed - fleas leave a trail of blood meal and flea feces behind them which look like specks of dirt.
Show those critters who’s the top dog
If your pup becomes plagued by fleas or ticks it is important to act quickly. Consult your vet first to see if they recommend a specific treatment plan. For fleas, this could look anything like using flea treatment shampoo and spray on your dog’s fur, cleaning your soft furnishings thoroughly to remove any eggs and even treating outdoor areas such as the lawn. For ticks, the treatment requires removing the tick from your pup’s body with expert precision. TheASPCA gives excellent advice on how to safely and swiftly do this so that you limit your risk of infection. Luckily, fleas and ticks are easy to eradicate but it is essential to know the best methods to use. Your local pet store or veterinary clinic will be able to provide you with the best products for your pooch.
Prevention is power. How to prevent your dog from getting fleas and ticks
While the chances of your dog getting fleas or ticks are quite high, you can limit them by following a few simple steps. It is also worth noting that these bugs are not picky and will happily host on your dog, your cat or even you. To them, blood is blood. So gross! So, to limit your risk of coming into contact with these mini vampires, the following steps will help.
Keep your garden neatly manicured. Cut your lawn, trim back hedges and keep vegetation manageable to reduce where these bugs can hide. Rodents can also carry fleas so ensure your garbage is disposed of regularly and securely.
Take your fur baby for regular grooming appointments to keep their hair nice and short.
Use an all-year-round flea and tick prevention treatment. This can come in the form of a collar, a vaccination or a pipette.
Schedule quarterly appointments with your vet to make sure that your flea and tick prevention regimen is flawless.