Few things are as frustrating as watching your dog constantly scratch himself. You can almost start feeling his itch yourself! Both ticks and fleas not only are extremely irritating to your dog, but also pose a risk to his health.
Fleas are small, jumping parasites that aren’t always easy to spot on your dog. To get to their blood meal, they bite into your dog’s skin, and their saliva causes the severe itching. Tiny as they are, fleas are quite hardy, and getting rid of them completely can pose quite the challenge. They can survive without a host for a period of time, and to make it even more complicated, there are often fleas in different stages of their lifecycle in your home.
Your vet will be able to advise on a product to use to treat all the animals in your home. Wash all bedding in your house on a hot cycle in the machine. You can also use a flea spray for your home as well as your garden.
Your dog can pick up ticks during a walk at the park as well as from other animals. These nasty critters need to feed on a blood meal three out of four stages in their lifecycle, and they typically bite down on the animal and embed their mouthparts under the skin to feed. Ticks are dangerous to our pets, with some tick-borne diseases being potentially fatal. If you see any of the following symptoms, see your veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling in the glands
- Pale gums
- Difficulty breathing
How to remove a tick
If you can handle the gross-factor, you can carefully remove ticks from your dog yourself. Use a tick removal tool or simply your thumb and index finger. Taking care not to squash the tick, apply gentle pressure close to the mouthparts of the tick, which will cause it to let go. Drop it in alcohol to make sure it’s dead before you dispose of it.
6 Tick and flea tips
- Follow a tick and flea prevention programme throughout the year. Fleas can survive in winter as well.
- Always keep your dog’s deworming schedule up to date.
- Your vet can advise on the most effective treatments for ticks and fleas. Your pet needs to take the correct dose for his age and size.
- For your pet’s safety, always follow the instructions on the packet of your chosen tick and flea treatment.
- Regularly vacuum your home and wash your pet’s bedding.
- Carefully check your dog for ticks after a walk or a holiday where you went out walking.