Dealing With Fleas And Ticks

Fleas and ticks can make your puppy or dog miserable... they can also trigger allergies and make him sick.

If your puppy is always scratching or has red, irritated patches of skin, and you see what looks like black grit in his fur (especially around the neck, ears, base of tail and groin) - chances are he has some fleas.

You may even see the fleas themselves.

Fleas are tiny, six-legged, reddish brown bugs which crawl through your dog's fur, but you'd be amazed how high/far a dog flea can jump (almost a foot high and cover 4 - 6 inches in distance)!

Cartoon dog with fleas

There are four stages in the life-cycle of a flea - egg, larvae, pupae and adult  (adults only make up about 5% of the total flea population in any one environment).

If Fido has fleas you need to kill them at ALL stages of development to get the results you want. 

Fleas breed at a terrifying rate and, left to their own devices, a few fleas can turn into a major infestation in a very short space of time.

Most fleas only live for between 3 and 6 months (but in ideal conditions could live for over a year) and during that time a female flea could lay 2000 eggs!

If you also see some small (or not-so-small) 'wart-like growths' on Fido's head/body, then he might have some ticks as well!

These annoying and potentially dangerous parasites set up home on Fido's skin and literally drink his blood, ugh.

But there's no need to panic because preventing and treating flea or tick infestations is pretty straightforward and there are many medications that can help.

This is especially good news because these parasites have the potential to make your pup sick, with diseases such as Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.... and these illnesses can be transmitted to humans too.

Some pups or dogs are so sensitive to flea saliva that the bites set up an allergic reaction.

Flea allergies cause intense itching, pain, swelling, hot-spots or bleeding/scabbed areas.

Puppies get fleas & ticks because....

Very young puppies can have them because their momma did, or because the area they were kept in had a flea problem.

Common dog fleaCommon Dog Flea

Pups and dogs of all ages can 'catch' fleas from other infected dogs, cats, rodents, vermin and any other type of animal they come in contact with.

It's not even necessary for your pet to touch another animal to get fleas... these little critters can jump a high and long, and are adept at leaping wide spaces in a single bound!

Flea eggs that are on the ground, in grass, carpets etc. will hatch sooner or later, and if your dog happens to walk by once they do.. then the fleas are going to hitch a ride.

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All About Fleas On Dogs & Puppies

Although there are thousands of different species of flea, the one that causes most of the trouble for dogs and cats is the common cat flea.

itchy dog with fleas

Believe it or not, a single flea can bite as many as 400 times a day, and lay up to 50 eggs in the same time frame!

If your puppy is one of the many dogs that is allergic to flea saliva, all this biting can result in flea allergies.

This causes excessive scratching, irritated skin and hair loss. Not nice!

Fleas are tiny, dark-colored creatures that crawl through your puppy's fur, close to the skin. They're usually most easy to spot around the ears, face and on the tummy.

If you're not sure whether or not little Fifi has fleas, stand her on white, or light colored sheet and comb her carefully with a flea comb.

Small black flecks that fall onto the sheet and turn red when wetted down are flea-dirt. If she's got a lot of fleas, they'll probably fall (or jump) off too.

Whether Fifi has already managed to become home to a flea colony, or if you just want to make sure that doesn't happen, it's important to use a good, effective preventative for fleas and ticks regularly.

There are lots of options for repelling or killing fleas and ticks, including shampoos, flea-collars, powders, sprays, chewable tablets and topical liquids.

Over-the-counter medications are usually not nearly as effective (or safe) as the ones recommended or prescribed by your veterinarian, so personally I'd recommend that you don't waste money, or take risks with your pup's health, by using OTC chemically-based products.

Some kill only live fleas, others only ticks, some kill fleas and ticks, some kill fleas, ticks and internal parasites such as certain types of worms, others also repel mosquitoes... to make sure you get the right protection for your puppy or dog, check out the list below.

The quickest-acting, most effective, safest and long-lasting choices include:

These are just a FEW of the flea and tick control products on the market. There is literally something for every dog!

It's important to make the right choice for your pet and this depends on which parasites you want to eliminate, how many different products you want to use, where you live and how old/big your pup or dog is.

Be sure you're using the most effective, and safest, products for your dog by checking out this page.... Best Flea Medicine For Dogs

If your poor little pup has been the host to a bunch of fleas it's vital to treat her bedding, the carpet and any soft furnishings she's been in contact with as well as your yard/garden.

This way you will make sure to kill fleas at all life stages and put an end to the problem properly.

You can buy special sprays or use one of the popular 'bombs' (a pressurized can of chemicals that spell D-E-A-T-H to fleas such as Virbac Knockout ES Area Treatmentand/or Virbac Home Flea Relief Yard Spray Concentrate) which are very effective.

By treating both your puppy and your environment you stand the best chance of being free of fleas and ticks in a very short period of time.

Ticks On Dogs

Ticks are small, brown or black creatures with teardrop-shaped bodies and 8 legs (they're related to spiders - another critter that makes you go "yuk"!).

The most common ticks in the USA is the brown dog tick and the American dog tick.

The Deer tick (the variety most likely to carry and transmit Lyme Disease) and the Western Black-legged tick can also be found.

tick before it bites your dog
tick after it bites your dog

The first photo shows what a tick might look like before it bites your pup and starts to feed.

The second photo is what the same tick looks like once it's engorged with your pup's blood. Ugh, nasty!

Ticks vary in size from tiny, pin-head critters to much larger one - sometimes as large as a kernel of corn, especially when they're full of your poor puppy's blood!

The best, most effective and safest way to prevent or kill ticks is to use a medication specifically designed to kill fleas and ticks.

The product I have relied on to eliminate ticks on dogs AND get rid of fleas is K9 Advantix.

Because we live in the midwest, on an acreage in the country with a creek right behind the house, ticks can be a real problem, so I've had plenty of practice figuring out what works and what doesn't!

If ticks are a big problem in your area you can use this every two weeks rather than once a month during the worst of the season.

But, it takes longer to kill ticks than it does fleas. Although the packaging may say 24 hours, if your dog has a lot of ticks it could take several days for them all to die... and the little ones (known as 'seed ticks' )normally die off first, the bigger ones that are engorged take longer.

Adding a Preventic Collar or a Seresto Collar can help too, and these are usually effective for about 3 months.

For really severe infestations of fleas and ticks (sometimes found in dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors, or in stray, neglected or abandoned puppies and dogs), a dip such as 'Biospot Pyrethrin Dip' can be used too. This kills and repels fleas, ticks, lice, gnats, flies and mosquitoes as well.

Simply mix the recommended amount of dip with water and pour it over your dog, then let him 'drip dry'. You can safely use it in conjunction with Advantix and the Preventic collar for maximum results.

IMPORTANT: Most flea and tick preventatives, including the Preventic collars and Pyrethrin dip should NOT be used on puppies under 12 weeks old.

Please make sure you double-check with your vet or read the instructions on any products very carefully before using them on your pup.

Over generations (which doesn't take long!) fleas are able to build up an immunity to chemicals and pesticides which they are exposed to on a regular basis.

This means that a product which once worked well, may no longer be effective.

When this happens we need to start searching for a different flea preventative/repellent and over time this can lead to our dogs being exposed to a LOT of chemicals and pesticides.

I have decided that this is not something I'm happy with and have started using natural products for flea/tick control. These are much safer, and surprisingly (to me anyway) effective.

If your dog has a severe flea/tick problem my personal advice would be to follow your veterinarian's advice as to what products to use to eliminate the problem.

THEN if you want to try more gentle, safer and naturals product why not?

Check out this page to learn more about this option Natural Flea Control for Dogs

How To Remove A Tick From A Dog Or Puppy

If your puppy has already picked up a tick and is not yet on any preventative medications you need to remove it as quickly as possible.

Getting it off your puppy within 24 hours can really reduce the chances of it being able to transmit any diseases.

  • Never touch a tick with your bare hands as Lyme Disease can be transmitted through your skin. Put on rubber/latex gloves first.

  • For the fastest, easiest, most fool-proof tick removal I highly recommend either Dr. Mercola's Tick Stick Kit or the Tick Twister Set. They work great and make it a snap to remove small or large ticks (there are also many other similar products, pick whichever one you think will work best for you). 
  • Until you get your Tick Stick or Tick Twister, you can use a pair of tweezers or forceps instead.

    Grasp the tick's head firmly, as close to your pup's skin as possible. Pull slowly but firmly. Don't grip the tick around it's swollen body or squeeze it's body.
  • Once the whole tick is out, use a disinfectant or rubbing alcohol to clean the area (and your gloves/tweezers etc. too), then apply a little anti-biotic ointment to the area of the bite.
  • When you're removing a tick from your dog, if it's head is left under your dog's skin it could become infected, so keep an extra-close eye on the area for the next few days.
  • Don't forget to make sure you kill the tick before disposing of it or you may see it again!
  • Once you've done all that, be sure to get Fifi on a regular schedule of flea and tick medication so you don't have to do the same thing all over again.

The more common American Dog Tick isn't a carrier, but most of us can't really tell the difference between tick species..... and I know that I'm not too keen to get up really close to these nasty little creatures if I can help it!

The most commonly used antibiotics used for treating Lyme Disease in dogs are Doxycycline and Amoxicillin.

The earlier the antibiotics are started, the better the chance that your dog will make a full recovery.

Lyme-aid Diagnostic Tick Remover & Testing Kit

Here's a fantastic product which can give you priceless peace of mind!

This diagnostic kit has a tick remover and then allows you to send the tick to a lab to find out whether or not it was carrying Lyme Disease.

As symptoms don't show for weeks, this early warning can allow you to set up treatment much earlier than would otherwise be possible, saving a lot of discomfort, pain, distress and cost.

There is an additional cost of $39.95 to have the tick analyzed, but to my mind it's well worth the money - especially if you're in a high risk state.

Related Pages......

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