As a dog owner, you have a set of important responsibilities that you have to take care of if you want to ensure the happiness and well-being of your furry companion. One of them is making sure that your dog is, for the most part, free of tick or flea infestation.
These pests may seem small and ultimately just a nuisance, but be warned—neglecting to keep them off your dog and out of your home may not only compromise your companion’s health but yours as well. This is why it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your pet.
With that said, let’s first examine some common misconceptions about these bugs.
The difference between ticks and fleas
Fleas and ticks are often mentioned together, especially when it comes to finding treatments and solutions for pest infestation. As you may already be aware of, they are not the same thing. In fact, they’re completely different critters. Here are just some of the ways they differ:
- A flea is an insect. They’re small, brown, and tiny. Ticks are arachnids, which makes them closer to spiders. Ticks start out small and almost invisible, but once they’ve started feeding on a host, they swell up enough to be visible.
- Fleas attach themselves to one host for life. This means that once they’ve managed to make a home of your dog, they’re likely to stay there until they dies. Ticks meanwhile can jump from one host to another, or even hide in bushes until a perfect host comes along. And yes, they can transfer to you or your loved ones if you’re not careful.
- Fleas can transmit parasites such as tapeworms and bacteria such as bartonella to your dog. Ticks, on the other hand, can spread deadly diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to dogs and their owners
Different as they are, the most important thing is that they are both harmful to your dog and thus need to be eliminated. Thankfully there are many commercially-available products that deal with both kinds of pests at the same time. Your veterinarian can easily recommend the best product to get for your dog.
However, getting a tick and flea removal product isn’t where it all begins and ends. There are other things you can do to help prevent the infestation from happening in the first place. Here are some of them:
- Inspect your dog carefully after every walk or time spent outside. Any amount of time that your dog spends outdoors means an equal amount of time it was exposed to a potential flea or tick infestation. This is especially true if your furry companion came into contact with other dogs. As a preventive measure, make sure to give your pet a thorough brushing after they spend time outdoors. Also feel for any bumps on their fur that might give away stragglers, and look into common hiding places such as inside their ears or between their paws. The earlier you can catch a tick or flea infestation, the easier you’ll be able to deal with it.
- Watch out for key signs of a tick or flea infestation. Besides excessive scratching, raw bite marks on your pet as well as red, itchy skin are tell-tale signs of an infestation underway. A marked change of behavior or lack of appetite or energy can also signify a pest problem, although this would be at the latter stages of it, when your pet is already suffering a disease spread by ticks or fleas, and thus needs prompt veterinary care.
- Practice regular and thorough grooming. By bathing and grooming your dog regularly, not only do you deprive ticks and fleas of an ideal feeding environment but you also prevent them from being able to latch onto your dog, especially if your pet naturally has long hair. Regular baths also give you a chance to inspect your pet for any pests that may be hiding.
- Use a collar and leash whenever taking your dog out for walks. While it’s tempting to just let your dog out of the house so that they can be free, to do so gives your pet a chance to wander into prime tick or flea hiding spots, which usually consist of tall and grassy areas. Instead, invest in a proper dog collar and leash setup and use it to take your dog out for walks. Not only will you drastically lower the chances of your dog getting fleas or ticks, but you’ll also deepen the bond between you and your pet.
- Wash your dog’s bedding, toys, and feeding bowls regularly. Even if your dog may have had all its fleas or ticks removed, it doesn’t mean it’s already out of the woods. Tick or flea eggs may have dropped onto your dog’s belongings and are just waiting to hatch. There may even be actual fleas or ticks left there still alive, ready to hop onto your dog at the next opportunity. Prevent this by washing everything your dog regularly comes into contact with, including their toys, bedding, and food bowls.
When it comes to fleas and ticks, there are many ways to help address an infestation. For starters, you as a dog owner should practice proper grooming and dog care to prevent it from getting out of hand. You should also consult your veterinarian, who’ll be able to recommend an effective pest remediation solution. This way, these troublesome critters can be eliminated before they can do more harm to your pet.