Ticks and fleas are not only a nuisance, they also pose a risk to your pooch’s health and well-being. Read on to find out all you need to know about keeping these pesky bugs away from your furry loved ones.
Signs your Dog has Ticks or Fleas
Incessant scratching and excessive grooming are indications that your dog may have fleas.
Your pooch is likely to have ticks if they’re shaking their head a lot, has a fever or unexplained scabs on their skin. Ticks are normally either visible to the naked eye or can be felt in the fur, particularly after feeding, although some tick species are much smaller and more challenging to see.
Dangers Associated with Ticks and Fleas
- Dogs may develop severe allergic reactions to flea bites and in some instances, can react to even a solitary bite. This flea-related skin disease is called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) and in acute cases, can result in prolonged scratching and gnawing that harms the skin and causes severe inflammation. FAD can also trigger secondary bacterial and fungal infections.
- In severe infestations, these blood-sucking insects can sometimes consume so much blood that your dog becomes anemic and lethargic. In extreme cases, dogs can die from an infestation, particularly if it concerns vulnerable dogs such as puppies, old dogs or dogs with pre-existing health issues.
- Fleas are also carriers of other parasites such as tapeworms and various bacterial infections.
- Ticks are responsible for transmitting critical diseases to their hosts, such as tick bite fever and biliary.
- Treatment using the available medical options:
- Spot-on treatments
Spot-on treatments are applied monthly, usually between your pooch’s shoulder blades. Spot-on treatments are reasonably priced, simple to apply, effective in preventing ticks and fleas from feeding on your dog as well as exterminating them when they attempt to do so.
- Sprays and Powders
Spraying ensures ticks and fleas are killed instantly. Alcohol-based sprays are efficient, but they can have undesirable side-effects. Some sprays can be used in conjunction with topical treatments, whilst others can be applied between dipping.
- Oral Control
Oral medications, in the forms of a tablet or liquid, ensure your dog’s whole body is protected from ticks and fleas for extended periods of time. However, there has been a lot of controversy around the side-effects of oral tick and flea control, so chat to your vet about this option as well as the recommended dosages. Read the indications very carefully and take heed of what you learn.
This involves diluting a concentrated solution (typically consisting of pyrethrin) with water and pouring it over the dog’s body. The mixture must air-dry and must not be rinsed off.
- Flea Collars
Flea collars contain a flea and tick-repellent chemical that spreads over the pooch’s body and will safeguard your fur ball for a few months. Although they are reasonably priced, they may agitate your pet and are known to emit quite an intense odor.
- Flea Shampoos
This is a short-term option for washing away adult fleas and larvae. Ensure the shampoo bonds with the skin by leaving it to soak into the coat for approximately 10-15 minutes prior to rinsing.
- The following natural options are also available for alternative pooch protection:
- Gently massage a small amount of freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice onto your dog’s coat as citrus is known to repel fleas. CAUTION: THIS MODE OF PREVENTION SHOULD NOT BE USED ON CATS.
- Visit a garden store and enquire about natural predators, such as lady bugs and fire ants, that can inhabit your garden and feed off both flea larvae and adult fleas.
- Applying moderate amounts of geranium or cedar wood oil to your pooch’s collar will naturally ward off ticks and fleas. CAUTION: THIS MODE OF PREVENTION SHOULD NOT BE USED ON CATS.
- A few drops of lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, pennyroyal oil etc. can be added to your pooch’s bath to deter fleas. CAUTION: ANY ESSENTIAL OIL IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE ON CATS.
NB!!! Always consult with your veterinarian about the various tick and flea prevention and control options available as well as when and how to administer them correctly. Most of these options should not be administered on puppies under 6 weeks old.
- Control Ticks and Fleas in your Home
- Treat all pets in your household for ticks and fleas.
- Meticulously vacuum all carpets, your and your dog’s bedding, upholstery and curtains.
- Wash all rugs, bedding, throws and any removable fabrics at the hottest temperature they can undergo without being damaged.
- Use approved insecticides and insect growth regulators (IGR) to terminate the next life cycle of flea eggs and larvae.
- Foggers can be used to eradicate ticks and fleas found below the surface of carpets.
- Ensure that you regularly check for ticks and fleas on your dog as described below:
Checking for Ticks and Fleas:
- Thoroughly check your dog for ticks and fleas daily, especially in warmer months.
- Ticks and fleas can appear anywhere on your dog’s body but are typically found on the head, ears, neck and paw regions.
- Feel along your dog’s entire skin surface, as you’re more likely to feel a tick before you see one.
- Flea dirt is faecal matter passed by fleas which they subsequently leave on your dog’s fur and skin. The possibility of your pooch having fleas is high if a metal comb is run thoroughly through their coat and you notice black pepper-like specks either on the comb or the surface under which the dog is placed. Live fleas can then be drowned in soapy water.
- Ticks should be removed as close enough to your dog’s mouths as possible, without the use of your fingers! Press gently but firmly until the tick detaches itself. Never use fire-igniting materials for tick removal as it can severely agitate or burn your pooch’s skin. If you’re not comfortable removing the ticks or fleas yourself, ask your vet for support in removing them.
- Control Ticks and Fleas in your Outdoor Environment
- Erect boundaries around your property to keep other flea or tick infested animals from entering your premises.
- Mow your lawn on a regular basis and keep your bushes neatly trimmed.
- Remove any leaf litter and organic waste as ticks thrive in moist environments.
- Tightly secure garbage bins so rubbish is out of reach of stray animals that are potential carriers of ticks and fleas.
- Avoid walking your dog in long grass and keep them out of wooded spaces.
- Using a pesticide in your garden is also an option, however, be sure to follow the instructions carefully or get a professional to carry out the fumigation for you.
FYI – For Your Infurmation:
Tick and flea control treatments for dogs must never be used on cats as they can be extremely poisonous to our feline fur friends and vice versa.
Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson
Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.