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Dog Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that we’ve all heard about. Not only are these parasites a source of irritation and bother for pet owners and pets, they also are capable of transmitting other parasites and disease. The good news is that there are medications that can prevent your dog from falling victim to these biting foes!

How can you tell if your dog has fleas & ticks?

Most people think they’ll know if their dog has fleas and/or ticks because the dog will be scratching like crazy. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Frequently dogs will come into our hospital loaded with fleas or with several ticks and the owner had no idea. Fleas don’t like the light, so it is difficult to find the flea itself. You can find flea dirt (which is flea poop) in your dog’s coat. Flea dirt looks like ground black pepper. Fleas can also transmit the intestinal tapeworm parasite, so you may see tapeworm segments (which look like grains of rice) around your dog’s rectum. Ticks are very small before they eat a meal but once they’ve eaten, they are typically about the size of a pea or corn niblet.

How do you prevent fleas & ticks in dogs?

There are several flea and tick prevention medications available and, as always, prevention is better than dealing with these pesky parasites! There are oral tablets that can be given once monthly or once every 3 months. There are topical products that have to be applied once monthly. The topical products are better for dogs who have an allergy to the flea bite because the medication kills the flea before it has a chance to bite the dog. Please contact our hospital to discuss which prevention medication will work best for you and your dog.

What are the treatment options for ticks in Dogs?

The first step in treating a dog with ticks is the physical removal of the tick. Ticks bury their heads under the skin to ingest a blood meal. You cannot simply yank the tick out of the dog’s skin because the head of the tick will remain buried. The tick has to let go for it to be then removed. Ticks can also transmit disease (such as Lyme’s disease) so if you’ve found a tick on your dog, please call us to discuss the next steps you need to take for your dog.

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