If you walk your dog outside regularly, then there is always a risk that they might bring home a hitchhiker with them. In this case, we’re talking about fleas or ticks. Since dogs like to sniff around everywhere, it’s easier for them to pick up a parasite than most people may think. Here’s what you should know!
Where are fleas and ticks found?
Fleas are just about everywhere, though you’ll most likely find them in areas of neglect. For example:
- Old furniture
- An apartment building
- Other pets that do not have flea protection treatment
Fleas can easily jump from one host to the next and quickly settle into an infestation. They can also survive in your home (or other such areas) for an extended period. Even if you get them off every pet and human in your home, they can still hang around between floorboards and under the baseboard.
Ticks tend to be more common in wooded areas. They are often found on wildlife such as deer. For this reason, the most common kind of tick has earned the nickname “deer tick.” Common areas to find ticks include:
- Heavy, thick woods
- Long grasses
- Ungroomed trails
Ticks aren’t so dangerous themselves, but they can carry many serious diseases, including Lyme Disease. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid ticks for everyone’s health, pets and people! Ticks will bury their heads in the skin of their host, so it can be hard to remove them without special equipment (more on that next). It’s impossible to know by looking at the tick and the bite on your dog whether a tick has Lyme Disease or not. You must capture it very carefully and send it for testing!
What should I do if my dog has fleas?
If you’ve spotted that your dog has fleas and an infestation, you should call your vet and notify them. They’ll be able to advise you about what products to use, how often, and what to expect. Common advice from your vet for flea treatment can include:
- Separating your pet from other pets in the household
- Wearing gloves and disposable clothing, and tie your hair back
- Washing your dog with a special flea shampoo
- Using a flea comb to help remove any leftover larvae and dead fleas
- Repeating as recommended
Some vets will offer additional advice, but this is generally what is recommended. Did you know that some pets can be allergic to fleas? In this case, they may need advanced care and support to help them recover from a flea infestation and allergic reaction.
What should I do if my dog has ticks?
If your dog has ticks, there are very important steps and precautions to take for the actual removal process. This is because there is so much worry about ticks and their ability to spread Lyme Disease so easily and quickly to other pets and to people. Steps include:
- Checking your pet thoroughly for ticks so that you can remove all of them
- Separating your pet from other animals in the house
- Wearing gloves and protecting yourself while working with your dog
- Using tweezers very carefully to pinch the tick’s head and pull it straight out
PLEASE SEE THIS VIDEO FOR PROPER TECHNIQUE:
- Putting the tick in a jar with a moistened cotton ball
- Washing your dog’s skin with soap and water
- Applying a dog-safe antiseptic to the bite areas
- Submitting the tick to your veterinary doctor for testing
Submitting the tick for testing is strongly recommended so that your vet can intervene quickly if it turns out that your dog does end up having Lyme Disease. It also is strongly recommended so that you can do your part to help the government track the spread of Lyme Disease.
Prevention is your best choice
While it’s nice to know that you can remove fleas and ticks without too much trouble at home, it’s best to use this as a last resort. It’s wise take a preventative approach by getting them fully vaccinated as often as your vet recommends.
Dogs and cats often require flea and tick medication if they are inside and outside a lot throughout the year. Ask your vet about what to use and how often to use it for your pet. Even if you never go to high-risk areas or situations for fleas and ticks, you should still get this vaccination since fleas and ticks can actually be lurking anywhere, even in your yard.
Don’t forget that you should also vaccinate your other household pets because your dog could possibly bring something home to them. If you only have an indoor cat (or other animals), many vets will suggest doing this at a lesser frequency since the risk is considered lower.
A word of warning
Another important thing to remember is that your dog may not only need treatment themselves, but can bring fleas and ticks home, resulting in others needing those treatments, too! If you notice one pet has an issue, check all other pets thoroughly as well! You’ll need to repeat the above steps for every pet you notice has a flea or tick infestation from the original pet that came into the home.
And fleas and ticks aren’t just exclusive to your dogs and cats and other household pets. They’ll also take whatever chance they can get to land on you! In that case you too will have to use the dreaded lice shampoo, or possibly additional treatment if you were bitten by a Lyme Disease-carrying tick!
Your pet is not to blame
Some pet parents will blame their pet for bringing home a flea or tick from whatever location they were at, but your pet is the victim! Be kind and loving toward your pet — they haven’t done anything intentionally, after all! However, keep track of where they picked it up. Sometimes it can come from other pets, dog parks, or beaches. It’s important to know where those high-risk areas are for future reference!
Fleas and ticks are always potentially severe health complications. You should ensure that you know what to do about each of these common parasites and how to avoid them as much as possible for convenience and everyone’s health and safety. These tips will help you understand where your pet is most at risk, and what to do when you spot one of these common pests!