How to Prevent Flea and Tick Infestations on Your Dog [ Guest Post ] By Caroline Golon

How to Prevent Flea and Tick Infestations on Your Dog [ Guest Post ] By Caroline Golon

Preventing flea and tick infestations will keep your dog happy and healthy. Fleas and ticks can be difficult to handle once an infestation begins. Here’s how to prevent a flea infestation and what you should do to treat your puppy or dog if an infestation occurs.

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What are fleas and ticks?

Fleas
Fleas are external parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. Fleas can jump long distances in a short amount of time, which can make them hard to find sometimes. There are many types of flea species, but the most common type is Ctenocephalides felis or “cat flea,” which is ironically the most common flea found on dogs.

Fleas can cause great discomfort and other issues for dogs. First of all, flea bites itch. Some pets react more adversely to bites
than others if they are allergic to a flea’s saliva. This condition is called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) or Flea Bite Hypersensitivity (FBH). Allergic reactions can also lead to excessive scratching, biting and licking, possibly leading to secondary issues like fur loss or skin irritation and infection. In some severe infestation cases, pets can lose enough blood to become anemic. Puppies and kittens can be especially prone to fleabite anemia. Fleas can also lead to tapeworm, another type of parasite that lives in the intestine. When pets lick their coat, they may ingest a flea that carries tapeworm larva.

A flea infestation can be equally bothersome to humans who are also susceptible to itchy bites. One telltale sign of fleas is the prPrevention Productsesence of flea dirt, which is the flea’s waste (and the substance flea larvae feed on). Flea dirt appears as reddish-brown specks on your pet or on his or her bedding.

Ticks
Ticks are small, spider-like arachnids that, similar to fleas, feed on blood. They can’t fly or jump, so instead they wait and then attach themselves to a host to feed on. While many tick bites are harmless (albeit itchy) some can transmit disease, such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, in both pets and humans.

Ticks are often found in high grasses or wooded areas and attach themselves to you or your dog, even during a short walk.

Once a tick has embedded itself, it is difficult to remove and requires a hands-on approach. Most experts suggest using tweezers to remove the tick from pet’s skin. There are also some innovative products, such as the Tick Twister, that help remove ticks easily. If you do not feel comfortable removing a tick from your pet, consult your veterinarian.

It’s difficult to completely avoid areas where ticks may reside, so it’s important to take preventative measures to help keep ticks away fr
om your pet in the first place.

Fortunately, a variety of flea and tick prevention products are available and offer different benefits based on each individual pet’s and family’s needs. Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best option for your pet. Also be sure to read packaging carefully as different products offer various benefits. Keep an eye on pets: sme can develop side effects from certain medications.

While some details vary from brand to brand, the most common treatments include:

Topicals
Also known as spot-on treatments, topicals are available in both prescription and over-the-counter options. These liquid medications are typically applied to the back of a dog’s neck, where they can’t lick or scratch. The ingredients absorb into the pet’s oil glands, and spread out to kill fleas and ticks all over their body. Some products are absorbed systemically.

Spot-on treatments either kill fleas and ticks on contact or repel them. Some treatments do both. Topical treatments are useful because once you apply them, they typically provide a full month’s worth of protection. They also work quickly to kill fleas and ticks that are already present. One very important note: Keep some distance between your pet and other pets and children until the solution dries completely.

 

 



BLOG CONTRIBUTOR: Caroline Golon

Caroline Golon is a frequent contributor to sites like Vetsteet, Catster, Dogster, Mother Nature Network, ASPCA Parents, Cuteness.com, Petfinder and more. She’s also the creator of Crayons & Collars, a site dedicated to busy families with pets and kids. You can find Golon many places online but she resides in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two young daughters. The Golons are dedicated staff members to a fluffy black cat named Pugsley who, obviously, runs the household.

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