July 7, 2017
Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs
The battle against fleas and ticks is a big one. If you have a puppy or dog, no matter what age, breed, or size it is, you will encounter these pests.
It's much easier to prevent your dog from getting these parasites, than it is to treat them.
- Groom your dog regularly. The more often you are getting up close to your dog's fur and skin, the quicker you will recognize if you have a problem.
- Bathe your dog two to four times a month. Use a flea shampoo or even regular Dawn dish liquid. Any fleas that are present on your dog will be killed.
- Wash your dog's bedding weekly with detergent in hot water. Fleas not only live on your dog, but in their surrounds as well. If your dog has an outdoor doghouse with straw, consider using pine bedding instead. Be sure to change the bedding out one to two times a month (or more if it becomes wet). If your dog sleeps in bed with you or on the couch, vacuum those areas as well as washing sheets and blankets. Or, better yet, don't allow your dog on the furniture.
- Vacuum your carpet and rugs well. Daily is best. It can be a pain to keep up with, especially with long-haired, shedding dogs. We love our Roomba and utilize it a couple times a day. We pair it with a regular vacuum cleaning once a week.
- Don't forget about your vehicle. If your dog rides in the car with you on a regular basis, be sure to keep the interior of your car swept out as well.
- Avoid other dogs and animals that are known to have flea problems. Fleas will jump from one dog to another, reproduce, and before you know it, you have a flea problem.
- Ticks originate outside, and particularly love tall grass, weeds, and underbrush. Try to avoid letting your dog run in tall grass and stick to the trails when walking in the woods.
- Be aware that anywhere you take your dog, there is always a chance of contracting fleas. Prime dog places that you can find fleas include the veterinarian's office, boarding kennels, pet stores, training classes, and dog parks.
- Use a flea and tick preventative, year round. Our favorite is K9Advantix II.
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Signs of Infestation
How do you know if your dog has fleas or ticks? The obvious answer is if you physically see fleas or ticks on your dog. However, just because you don't SEE them, doesn't mean your pet doesn't have them. Fleas and ticks are excellent hiders. That means that when you don't even know that they are there, they are sucking the blood of your dog and reproducing to create an even bigger problem.
If you see your dog scratching a lot, rolling around on the floor, or even biting at their skin, you may have a flea or tick problem. Part your dog's hair and look at the skin. Fleas will leave behind "flea dirt" in the fur. It just looks like little flecks of dirt. In reality, this is the waste from the fleas. Fleas usually like to hide on the belly of a dog. Ticks will attach anywhere on a dog, but the common places to find them are in, around, or under the ears, and on the belly. Ticks have a wide variety of species, some that are so tiny that you can hardly see them.
It is important that you treat your dog at the first sign of fleas or ticks. Both are blood sucking parasites. Left untreated, a dog can become anemic, need a blood transfusion, or even die from bad infestations. If your dog has ticks, take the time to pick off each one. If fleas are your problem, start by giving your dog a good bath with a flea shampoo or with Dawn dish liquid. Soap up your dog well, and let the shampoo sit on your dog for at least five minutes. Take the soaking time to go through your dog's hair, and try to pick out any dead or alive fleas.
You probably will not be able to hand pick off each and every flea or tick on your dog, but it is a good start. After the bath, it's time to treat your dog. There is a wide variety of flea and tick treatments on the market. There is everything from powders, sprays, and dips, to collars, drops, and pills.
- K9Advantix II is our favorite go-to flea and tick preventative. It also kills and repels lice and even flies (we live on a farm and have lots of flies). It contains 44% permethrin, 8.8% Imidacloprid, and 0.44% Pyriproxyfen.
- Advantage II is our favorite flea treatment. In the winter, there are no ticks, so we use this. It contains 9.1% Imidacloprid and 0.46% Pyriproxyfen.
- Frontline Plus is our favorite tick treatment. Although it is advertised for both fleas and ticks, we no longer find it affective at preventing or killing fleas. It was the first of the topical drop treatments, and has been around for many years. It is believed that it has been used so much that fleas have built up a resistance to it, so it no longer affects them. Still works great on ticks though! It contains 9.8% Fipronil and 8.8% (S)-methoprene.
- Capstar is a pill that will kill fleas within 30 minutes of being administered. It only kills adult fleas that are already on your dog, so you will need an additional preventative measure to keep them from returning. This works great if you have a bad infestation. You can give a Capstar, then apply a preventative routinely. It contains Nitenpyram.
- Seresto is a collar that gets fleas and ticks. Relatively new, it lasts for 8 months and is very popular and gets great reviews. It contains 4.5% Flumethrin and 10% Imidacloprid.
There are many other flea and tick treatment options available, but only from your vet. The above products all used to be prescription only as well. They are now readily available over-the-counter and are much cheaper than what you can buy them for at the vet.
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This page was last updated: October 5, 2017
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