Dogs Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Debbie Martin


Fleas and Ticks on Dogs: Prevention and Treatment

The fur of your pet dog is the perfect place for fleas and ticks to set up home. Even if he goes outside very rarely, you might be surprised at how easy it is for him to end up infested with parasites.

These insects can cause him a lot of discomfort and could also lead to a variety of health problems. The good news is that there are effective and reasonably simple ways of getting rid of fleas and ticks on dogs.

Signs of Fleas

There are a number of ways of spotting that your dog has fleas. Probably the first sign that you will be aware of is that he scratches himself or licks himself a lot more than before. If you examine his fur closely you might spot the fleas themselves scurrying around or else the dark specks that are their droppings. You may also see white specks, which are their eggs. You may also notice that he has damaged, irritated or scabbed spots on his skin. In severe cases, pets can also develop anaemia due to the amount of blood that they lose to the fleas feeding on them. This is especially true in young puppies or small dogs. You will notice that he has low energy levels and pale gums if this is the case. Another sign that a dog has fleas is when he suffers an allergic reaction to the flea bites, possibly causing him to lose some hair around the tail area.

Signs of Ticks and Tick Borne Disease

Because of their greater size, ticks are usually easier to spot than fleas. If he has a lot of fur then it may be more difficult, of course. However, if you groom him regularly then you should be able to spot a tick before too long. If you see him scratching the same spot a lot then this could be a sign that there is a tick there. These insects cause TBD (tick borne disease) and the following are some of the main symptoms. You may notice that he loses his appetite and loses weight too. He may also be depressed or lethargic. Nosebleeds, vomiting and discharge from his nose or eyes or are other signs of TBD. As the disease progresses there are even more worrying symptoms such as kidney failure and liver failure. It can be difficult to spot that a dog has TBD, as these symptoms can also show up from others causes. If you see any changes like this in your dog then it makes sense to let the vet give him a check-up as soon as possible.

How to Remove Ticks with Tweezers

Ticks can be safely removed at home, although some owners prefer to get a vet to do it. If you are going to do it yourself then the first step is to put on some gloves. You can then use sharp tweezers or a special tick removal tool to grab the tick. Do this as close to the head of the insect as possible. You then need to pull the tick straight out without yanking it. You will probably need to apply a fair degree of pressure to loosen the parasite but try your best not to break its body. Once you remove the tick you can dispose of it in alcohol, killing it in the process. You don’t want to crush it because the contents of its stomach can be dangerous if you do this. You can’t flush it away either, as it could survive this.  Killing it in a bag or bottle with alcohol also means that you can hold onto it for 40 days in case your pet develops TBD and the tick needs to be analysed. It is common for some pieces of tick to get lodged in the skin of an animal even after it is removed. In this case, you can use a needle sterilise with alcohol to remove the pieces.  Finally, you should clean the wound with soap and water before wiping it with alcohol.

How Not to Remove Ticks

It is also worth pointing out that some of the ways of removing ticks that you may have heard of are best avoided. Doing things like burning the tick off with a match or using oils or nail polish aren’t smart ways of doing this. As well as not being very effective, they could cause the tick to harm your dog by spilling the contents of his gut.

Getting Rid of Fleas and Ticks with Shampoo

When a dog has fleas or ticks there are a few different ways of helping him get rid of them and to get him feeling better again. One of the most common methods is to use a specially formulated shampoo. They tend to work by killing the parasites that are already on his body, rather than preventing new ones from arriving. These shampoos can be bought over the counter without a prescription. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before using a flea and tick shampoo. Generally speaking, you will want to cover his whole body in the shampoo and then leave it about 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

Prevent Fleas Using Flea Collars

Flea collars can be also be effective in keeping parasites away from your pet. Again, it is important to read all of the instructions on the packaging. The collar will come coated with chemicals, so you need to wash your hands thoroughly after handling it. You will also want to make sure that it doesn’t get into the hands of children.

Flea Tablets to Kill and Prevent Parasites

One of the quickest ways to treat a dog with fleas is to give him flea tablets. Some of these are effective enough to kill fully grown fleas in as little as half an hour. While there are certain tablets that work by killing the fleas, others act by stopping the eggs from hatching. You may need a prescription for some tablets of this type.

Topical Skin Treatments

Finally, it is also possible to apply a topical skin treatment to kill off fleas and ticks as well as to prevent new ones from infecting your dog. They tend to provide effective treatment for about a month or so after application. These are usually strong chemical treatments, so check with your vet which one would be best and how to use it effectively.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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