Spring and summer bring lovely weather for walking and playing outdoors with your dog, but that also can come with some nasty pests intent on pestering your pet. Fleas and ticks are very uncomfortable for your dog, and can also carry disease. Here are some ways you can help keep your dog free of fleas and ticks.
First, some signs of fleas in dogs:
- Flea droppings (commonly referred to as flea dirt) in a dog’s coat – this will look like black or brown debris, but will turn red when exposed to water
- Flea eggs on your dog or in her environment
- Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
- Hair loss
- Scabs and hot spots
- Pale gums
Please note that even if you only see a few fleas, there are likely many more that you cannot see. Just the presence of flea dirt can indicate an active infestation, even if you don’t see any live fleas.
Prevention and treatment:
- Comb your pup regularly with a flea comb and wash her bedding weekly.
- Vacuum carpets in your home frequently and dispose of the bags immediately. Mow your lawn regularly and remove tall weeds.
- With the help of your veterinarian, choose a species-specific flea and tick treatment for your pet. This is commonly a chewable tablet or a topical, liquid medication applied to the back of the neck between the shoulder blades. Also keep in mind you should NEVER use products intended for dogs on cats, and vice versa.
- Treat all of your pets for fleas, not just those who display signs of infestation. This includes cats!
- Regularly check your pet for ticks. If you spot one, take care not to touch the tick or any bite wounds directly (use gloves!), as some diseases carried by ticks are also transmissible to humans. If you are unsure of how to properly remove a tick, ask your vet!
By keeping an eye out and doing some preventative maintenance, you can help to keep your dog flea and tick free, healthy, and comfortable through the warm months.
Jackie D. is a dog walker for Running The Pack, a certified Vet Tech, and a graduate of the Veterinary Technology degree program at North Shore Community College.