With warm weather comes activities that dogs love, like getting outside and running (rolling) in the grass, going to the beach and playing in the sand, and going camping and running through the woods! But the warm weather also brings the threat of ticks and fleas.
These pests can be very irksome on their own, but when they decide to take up residence on your pup, things can get ugly, fast. Adult fleas make your pup itch like there's no tomorrow, flea larvae just make the cycle go on longer, and ticks latch on and turn your pup into their personal buffet. Even worse, if the tick that bites your dog is carrying a disease, your dog can in turn get really sick.
We know all of this sounds a little intimidating, but not to fear - we have a guide that tells you the problem with these pests and how to prevent against them.
The Problem with Fleas and Ticks
If you find a tick on your dog, it is important to make sure you remove it fully, as it is possible for the head of the tick to stay lodged in your dog's skin and cause further problems like infection. If you do notice that your dog has been bitten by a tick and you haven't been giving your dog flea and tick prevention medication, it is vital to contact your vet immediately as ticks are known to carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that presents itself through lethargy, loss of appetite, and swollen lymph nodes, among other symptoms. If left untreated, this disease can lead to serious heart or kidney problems. Dogs can be allergic to fleas' saliva, an ailment known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis. While most fleas just make dogs itch like crazy, dogs with this allergy usually have more sensitive skin, which can be riddled with scabs and red marks by the time a few fleas are done with them. In addition, if your pup just so happens to ingest a flea, there is a possibility that he could contract a tapeworm, as fleas sometimes carry their larvae.
What You Can Do To Help:
Checking your dog frequently
Checking your dog for fleas and ticks is one of the most important things you do, especially if you've been travelling to an environment you and your pup are not familiar with. Fleas and ticks are known to reside in fallen leaves and overgrown vegetation, so make sure you carefully inspect your dog when you come inside. Before they fill with blood, ticks are relatively small, so routine checks of your dog's fur are important. Feel for small bumps, especially around the head, neck, armpits, in between their toes, and around their ears. For fleas, you may notice that your pup is scratching a lot more than usual, but this may be too late as it could mean he already has a flea infestation. Try using a flea comb to sift through his fur to look for adult fleas as well as larvae. If he does in fact have a problem, giving your pup a bath with a flea and tick shampoo will help to kill off the infestation.
Keeping the environment safe
If you have a backyard, you can spray it with insect repellent to keep your doggo safe. Just make sure that your pup stays away while you're applying the repellent – it is safe for dogs to be around once it dries. In addition, keeping the grass mowed and the bushes trimmed is an important step to take since ticks like to hang out in low hanging bushes. Don't forget about the inside of your home, either! Keeping the inside of your home clean is just as important as keeping the outside tidy because these pests frequently find their way indoors to shelter against the elements. Vacuuming your floors and washing your dog's bedding often is a necessity, as well as keeping the areas clean that Fido most frequently hangs out.
The easiest way to make sure your dog is safe from annoying fleas and ticks this season (and all year, if we're being honest), is to give him regular medicine that prevents fleas and ticks. There are a variety of options to choose from to keep your pup safe including: chewables, topical treatments that kill the pests on contact, and even collars that can last up to 8 months. Talk to your vet to see which option will work best for your dog. It doesn't particularly matter which method you choose, as long as you do something to keep your pet safe from ticks and fleas. Like stated above, if your dog gets bit by an infected tick, things can turn serious very quickly. The best way to protect against tick bites is always going to be prevention.