Giving Dogs A New Leash On Life...One Click At A Time

Today is: Wednesday January 17, 2018

Flea and Tick Control In Dogs

Prevention is the key when it comes to fleas. Once you have them, they can give both you and all the pets in your house a lot of grief. Controlling and eliminating an already existing flea problem can become time consuming and expensive, especially if any steps are over looked. Flea control products have come along way.

One of the reasons that fleas are so difficult to get rid of when you have them, is the life cycle of the fleas. When the female gets her "blood meal", this helps her produce eggs, which fall off of your pet into the environment, like the carpet, his bedding, blankets, etc. The female flea lays approximately 30-50 eggs per day! This could result in 1,000 eggs in her short lifetime. With only 25 female fleas and 30 days, this could produce as many as a quarter of a million fleas! The eggs have a protective outer coat. The eggs can lay dormant throughout the cold winter months and then hatch when the weather becomes warmer. When the eggs hatch, they turn into larvae, which feed off of the flea dirt that you can often see on your pet. The larvae will then spin a cocoon and now are considered pupae. Which is when they start feeding off of the host (your dog).

Nowadays, we have monthly oral pills, monthly topical products, sprays, collar, shampoos and powders that are effective in helping to prevent and kill adult fleas and their eggs. They are safe, effective, and convenient to use on dogs. It is best to talk it over with your vet to determine which one is best for you, your dog, and your situation. The most important thing that you can do is to prevent fleas in the first place.

Monthly oral pills, like Program, most effective when given with a meal, once ingested go into the bloodstream. When a flea takes a "blood meal" from your dog, the product is ingested by the flea. When a female flea then lays her eggs, they will be lacking a certain protein necessary for their development. Thereby, the eggs are sterile and will not hatch. Therefore, the flea life-cycle is broken. This product is considered one of the safest on the market. However, it will not kill existing fleas. If you already have a flea problem, this product would not be recommended.

Monthly topicals, like Frontline, would actually kill adult fleas. The manufacturer of Frontline claims that 98-100% of existing fleas will die in less than 24 hours. Once a month, a pre measured dose is applied to the skin, generally in the neck area. The medicine will spread itself over your dog's body at the hair follicle. When a flea comes in contact with your dog, it will come in contact with the toxic chemicals and die. This product will last about two - three months in dogs. However, if also using this product to control ticks, it will need to be applied monthly.

It is also very important that you treat the environment when controlling fleas. Wash any beds, carpets, bed sheets, etc. It is important to treat any and all areas that your pets have or could have contact with. Make sure you vacuum thoroughly. Throw the vacuum bag away immediately when you have finished. You may want to consider a bomb or fogger, but keep in mind all living animals must be removed before continuing.  You may also need to treat the yard.

Large numbers of fleas can cause anemia in your dog, especially puppies. Fleas can also cause severe scratching, red lesions, hair loss, and occasionally ulcers.

Tick Control:

Ticks do not die easily. A tick can sit month after month patiently waiting for your dog, and you , to come by. If no host has been found, ticks can hibernate throughout the winter months and emerge when the weather becomes nicer. Our main concern with ticks are the disease that they can transmit. Most reportedly is Lyme disease. But also, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, in some areas, and paralysis. Left untreated, Lyme disease plays havoc with the immune system, causing a severe form of arthritis and occasionally heart or neurological problems. Tick paralysis happens mostly in springtime. Paralysis will begin in your dog's hind legs. At first, he may be wobbly in the back end or unable to walk. Oddly, the front legs will still be fine at this point. He will still be bright, alert, and not in any pain. Later, he will lose the ability to use his front legs and can become unconscious and die from respiratory paralysis. If you notice any ticks or back end function loss, carefully look over your dog's entire body and carefully remove any ticks. Signs of recovery should be seen within three to four hours. If paralysis is more in the advance stages or recovery is not progressing, get your dog to the vet immediately. The may be neurological problems, more ticks, or another problem altogether.

When removing ticks, you should wear gloves and use tweezers. Special tweezers are available at the pet store. Carefully grasp the tick head firmly. Slowly and steadily pull the tick straight out from the skin. It is very important to NOT squeeze the tick body at any time, this can inject potentially more pathogens into your dog while the tick is still embedded. Be sure to dispose of the tick safely. Try to place the tick in a jar of rubbing alcohol, noting the date, in case of future illness. Cleanse the skin with mild soap and water. If a small part of the tick breaks off into your dog, you can try to remove it like you would a splinter, however, it is probably best to leave it alone. The body will fall off in time.

This site and its contents are intended to serve as basic informational purposes 
 --not a substitute for-- 
professional veterinary care!


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