Dog Fleas and Ticks
Dogs can easily pick up fleas and ticks when outdoors. These parasites feed on your pet’s blood and can cause health problems. If left untreated, flea infestations can cause secondary skin irritations, anemia, flea allergy dermatitis and tapeworms. Common ticks that are found on dogs are deer ticks, brown dog ticks and American dog ticks. Ticks can transmit serious tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis from a single bite.
It is recommended to give prevention from spring until late fall. Year-round prevention may be required for pets who travel to warmer regions for the winter months. It is important for your pet to have annual exams with your vet and to use flea and tick prevention medication to keep your pet healthy and protected from these parasites.
How can I tell if my dog has fleas or ticks?
Common signs of fleas in dogs include flea droppings (flea dirt) or flea eggs (white specks) in the fur, hair loss, scabs, red and irritated skin and excessive licking or scratching. Allergy dermatitis from fleas can cause open sores, potentially leading to skin infections from severe licking, chewing and scratching. Signs of anemia caused by heavy infestations are pale gums and lack of energy. It is also possible to feel and see ticks on your dog. They are often attached near the head, neck, ears or paws.
Dogs with tick-borne diseases can either show signs of illness or they may be sub-clinical and develop changes observed at the laboratory level but show no outward signs of illness. If affected with the tick-borne disease, your pet may exhibit signs such as fever, joint pain or swelling, lameness, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, depression and/or kidney disease.
How can I prevent fleas and ticks on my dog?
There are many products available to prevent fleas and ticks. We recommend a 4DXplus blood test to screen for heartworm, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis before starting flea or tick prevention. Annual testing is important especially if your dog picks up ticks easily or if prevention medications were missed the previous year. There is also a vaccine available to help protect your dog against Lyme disease. It is best to consult with your veterinarian for a recommended prevention medication that is best suited for your pet.
What are the treatment options for dogs who have ticks?
If you find a tick on your pet, you can either remove it at home or bring your pet into the clinic to have it removed by a veterinarian technician. If you choose to remove the tick yourself, be sure to grasp the tick close to the skin surface and pull the tick straight out with steady and even pressure. There are tools available called Tick Twisters that can be used to remove ticks from your pet. After removing the tick, you may want to bring it into our clinic for proper identification in case it is one of the species of ticks that transmit diseases.
If treatment is required, we recommend consulting with our veterinarians for suitable options for your pet.