It is really funny how things so tiny can do things so mighty. Honey is produced by tiny bees and anthills are crafted by tiny ants. Little hooks catch the big fish and tiny seconds grow into years, decades and centuries.
In the same way, fleas and ticks ravage dogs and make them sick (good rhyme, yea?). It is these little things that necessitated the creation of dog flea and tick control methods.
It is common knowledge that dogs get ravaged by ticks and fleas. But do you really understand what they do to dogs? Or how to get rid of them? If you don’t, this article is for you.
We have all these questions and more answered just for you. If you already do know the answers to the questions, still see what we’ve got. Information is never too much (unless when it’s too much).
Table of Contents
Are Fleas And Ticks The Same?
The answer to that question is no. It is usual for people to think that they are one and the same because they are usually mentioned in the same sentence. However, they aren’t. Ceasarsway shows us some basic differences between fleas and ticks and we’ve listed them here.
- Fleas are insects which typically means they have 6 legs. Ticks are arachnids which typically means they have 8 legs.
- Typically, ticks live longer than fleas. Ticks can live for up to 3 years while fleas live for about 100 days.
- Only fleas that have reached the adult stage can feed but ticks can feed at different stages. However, they feed on different hosts at the different stages.
- Fleas are loyal. They live all their lives on just one host while ticks migrate to whatever host is providing the most.
- Ticks get to lay eggs just once and after that they die. But they go down with a bang. They lay their eggs in thousands. Fleas, on the other hand, get to lay their eggs more than once, so they take their time. They lay between 20 and 40 eggs every day for the period of time they want to breed.
- Fleas lay their eggs on the host while ticks do theirs off the host.
- Probably the most important thing is that ticks are potentially deadlier than fleas. While fleas might be accompanied by tapeworms and bartonella (which could be deadly), ticks are transmitters of Rocky Mountain Spotty Fever (RMSF) and Lyme disease (which are deadly).
Why did we think it necessary to tell you all these? It is because we consider it necessary that you know why they are not the same so that you can understand the treatment and treatment process.
How Dogs Pick Up Fleas And Ticks
We know you’ll probably want to hear things like a dirty environment and such because it will mean that your dog is safe. However, it doesn’t work that way. A flea and tick infestation is not a sign of dirtiness or even carelessness. It is what it is. So how did your dog get those ticks and fleas?
- Other Animals: Your dog probably got his ticks and fleas from his friends and or enemies. Once your dog gets in contact with an infested dog, a little sniffing around, a little shaking and boom! Your dog has an infestation. It is what it is.
- Humans: Including you. Yup, you are a potential introducer of ticks and fleas to your dog. No, we are not saying that ticks and fleas live on your skin (unless it’s your hair though). But ticks and fleas (mostly ticks) can latch on to anything for the ride; clothes, shoes, bags, whatever. So if you find yourself in a place that is notorious for fleas and or ticks, be sure to do a disinfection before you come in contact with your dog.
- The Environment: The entire environment is ripe with potentials when it comes to ticks and fleas. They are everywhere, especially ticks which do not need a host to breed. Your dog could pick them up when you both are out for a walk or on your way to the vet (ironic yea?)
It’s really not difficult to see how easy it is for your dog to pick up ticks and fleas. The next thing you need to know is how to recognize that your dog has an infestation.
Signs That Your Dog Has Fleas And/Or Ticks
The most noticeable sign that your dog has an infestation is scratching. If he has ticks and fleas, he will scratch a lot to try to rid himself of them. However, Petmd tells us that there are some other signs we can look out for:
- You will begin to notice ticks in your house, especially if your dog lives indoors. You’ll usually notice them on clothes, beddings, couches and even rugs and carpets. If you begin to notice these ticks don’t just try to take care of the ticks, find out and take care of the source.
- Fever: A flea and tick infestation is more often than not accompanied by a fever. However, a fever does not always mean flea and tick infestation. If your dog is down with fever, take him to see a doctor and not try to treat him yourself.
You’ll know if your dog is down with fever if he is weak, shivers a lot and refuses to eat.
- Scabs: Because your dog will scratch a lot, the bites could become scabs. So, check your dog often for scabs. If he has any, he has been scratching a bite.
- Head Shaking: Too frequent head shaking means your dog is trying to dislodge something. And that something could be a tick inside his ear. He doesn’t know that he can’t dislodge the stuff by the enthusiastic shaking of his head so he will keep doing it. Just help your dog to take care of the issue.
- Bumps: Flea and tick bites usually leave bumps. Much like a mosquito bite on human skin. Searching for bumps on your dogggie should be something that you do on a regular basis. So, once you notice a bump, ring the bell, sound the alarm, the ticks and fleas have come.
The Need For Dog Flea And Tick Control
More than the discomfort that fleas and ticks bring to your dog, these little things come with some very unwelcome packages. Some of them include:
This one is courtesy of deer ticks and it is so not something to smile about. Lyme disease can affect humans too and not just dogs. So, it is not like the deer tick produces the disease.
What happens is that, in its early life, it feeds on small rodents and then becomes a carrier of the bacteria causing Lyme disease. It finds a host, and generously transfers what it has gotten. And that’s how dogs and humans come to be infected.
Signs of Lyme fever include fever, depression, pains in the joints and swollen lymph nodes.
Fleas are responsible for this one. Bartonella infection affects dogs, cats and humans too. Common signs of bartonella infection include diarrhea, fever and seizures.
This is an issue because in the process of scratching himself and generally trying to dislodge the fleas, he could ingest them. Ingesting them could cause him to develop tapeworms.
Tapeworms are bad news because they live in the intestines. They wait till the food gets to the intestine before sharing it among themselves. That’s just plain wicked.
Both fleas and ticks are to blame for this one. Fleas and ticks suck blood. So if your dog has too many fleas and ticks, they could suck enough blood to make him anemic. Yup, it is very possible.
If you have carefully gone through this section, we are sure you now understand the gravity of the infestation your dog is experiencing. This then begs the question that we are sure you’re asking, “what dog flea and tick control methods can I apply on my dog”?
Dog Flea And Tick Control Methods
Dog flea and tick control is not something you just get on. There is an art to it or a science, whatever works for you. What we are just getting at is that there are more than one ways to kill a mouse (or ticks and fleas in this case).
And PetCareRx neatly separates these different methods into categories:
Topical Dog Flea And Tick Control
When we talk topical dog flea and tick control, we refer to those medications and control measures that are applied directly on the skin. So the topical dog flea and tick control comprises things such as shampoos, powders, creams and spot-on-treatment.
The topical treatment doesn’t last longer than a month, though. In fact, it is just the spot on treatment that lasts that long.
The shampoo is good for one day, which could be a hassle because who wants to bathe a dog every day? The powder should be good for a week and we already talked about the spot on treatment.
In summary, topical dog flea and tick control is not a lasting solution to a flea and dog issue.
Pills As Dog Flea And Tick Control
So, before you decide that you want to use drugs as dog flea and tick control, consider the following:
- Some drugs have side effects. So, if you are going to be administering the drugs to your dog, there should be close monitoring. And you have to be ready to discontinue the administration once you notice any unfavorable sign.
- Drugs can kill off fleas but are not known to have an effect on ticks. Those things are strong willed.
- Even when it comes to dealing with fleas, no one drug can kill fleas at all their stages. For example, a dog flea and tick control drug designed to kill adult fleas will not kill the eggs. So, in order to properly do away with the flea infestation, you will have to buy a mix of drugs.
- Do not buy drugs without getting a prescription. Have a discussion with your vet.
Dog Flea And Tick Control Collars
The dog flea and tick control collars are usually used for the prevention of a flea and tick infestation. However, there are those that can be used to eliminate fleas and ticks (those ones should have “kill” written on them).
A collar is worn on the neck (of course), so it generally deals with the fleas and ticks around the head and neck areas.
Also, a dog flea and tick control collar does not work forever, it is good for about 8 months. However, they are your best bet for a proper tick annihilation. Ticks might be stubborn but they are no match for a dog flea and tick control collar.
Flea And Tick Control Methods Must Be Vet Approved
A flea and tick infestation should never be brushed off as a normal thing. This is why we took the time to inform you of the world of infections that are open to a flea and tick infested dog. So, if you ever notice them on your dog, take action.
Now bear in mind that humans are also open to some of the infections that come with being infested by ticks and fleas. So you want to be careful when going through your dog’s coat in search of those things. It is best you go in gloved and holding tweezers. You don’t want to risk accidental bites. Or better still, see your vet.
Which leads us to what is probably the most important thing you’ll read here. Do not try any dog flea and tick control method without visiting your vet. You could be doing more harm than good. Make sure you don’t self-medicate your dog. Whatever measures you use on him should be vet approved.
An infestation by ticks and fleas is really not a death sentence. It is preventable and very manageable.