It might start as a subtle scratching in the night, maybe followed by a little head shake. Next comes the nibbling at the feet, elbows, and back. Before you know it, there’s a full-on itch fest happening on the couch, the bed, the floor…everywhere! Then comes the blood sucking…
This may sound like a scene out of a creepy horror movie but it’s actually the result of a far more real-life problem that can affect your canine companions. We’re talking fleas and ticks: those creepy, crawly parasites that can swarm your pet and act as a general nuisance to both your and Fido’s daily lives. While the temporary external discomfort for your dog may be obvious, fleas and ticks can also have a serious, long-term impact on both canines and humans. Keep reading for the low-down on why flea and tick control is a must for the health and well-being of your entire two and four-legged family.
How does my dog get fleas?
Before we delve into the nitty gritty, a few myths need to be dispelled. Pet owners often believe that because their pet lives indoors, they’re not at risk for parasites and regular flea and tick control can be disregarded. Other owners believe that fleas and ticks are a hygiene issue and since their pooch receives regular grooming and professional coif-attention at the local doggy salon, creepy crawlers are not a worry. Unfortunately, neither of these is a viable alternative to or reason to avoid worrying about fleas and ticks.
While a well-groomed coat can help lower headcount of ticks and regular brushing with a fine-tooth comb can greatly reduce the number of fleas, these parasites are attracted to your dog as a food source and have little care for their overall personal hygiene. Fleas can also live for up to 12 months, hunkering down and entering a state of near hibernation when their food supply (your dog) is low. Dogs can pick up fleas and ticks by brushing up against grass in a yard or even by being in the proximity of another infected, untreated animal; maybe even at those regular grooming appointments.
What can ticks and fleas do to my dog and family?
Fleas and ticks on your dog are more than just a topical problem. Both types of pests feed off of the blood of animals. They do this by biting or attaching to your dog’s skin. In large numbers, this can create anemia in your precious pet. In addition, fleas and ticks carry a variety of blood-borne diseases and infections, many of which can be life-threatening in man’s best friend. Tick Paralysis, tapeworm, Lyme disease, dermatitis, and more are all transmitted by these noxious insects and pose serious risks to Fido’s health and well-being.
Failure to maintain a proper flea and tick prevention protocol can affect more than just the four-legged members of your family. Fleas and ticks may prefer a la carte dining on your canine but aren’t against taking a sip across species for a human meal if available. Some of the same health concerns for Fido also apply to you and your family as many blood-borne viruses carried by fleas and ticks are considered zoonotic, meaning they can also infect humans.
Maintain a regimen
When it comes to protecting you and your pet, few things are as easy as a strong regimen of flea and tick control. The options are endless when it comes to specific treatment methods. Once-monthly topical treatments and systemic pills are both effective flea deterrents that can be recommended or prescribed. Remember though, that preventative medicines and topical agents are species-specific. Products made for dogs are not for use on cats and other pets. Talk to your vet about flea and tick control for all members of your family. Add in a little regular grooming and attentiveness to excess scratching, biting and licking, and maintaining a parasite-free home is easier than you think.