Flea prevention for dogs
Fleas and Ticks
Safeguarding your dog/puppy and your home against fleas and ticks will help to protect against disease and prevent large vet's bills.
Fleas can thrive all year. Fleas can cause your dog or puppy to scratch, and their saliva may trigger an allergic skin reaction. Fleas are also integral to the lifecycle of tapeworms, so flea treatment should form part of your regular worming plan.
To check your dog for fleas; stand him on a clean white towel, as this will help you to see any evidence of fleas that drop out on to the towel as you comb him. If you have a very light coloured dog you may notice the fleas easily, but with darker haired dogs it can be more difficult, so a close-pronged flea comb is very useful.
Begin at the head and comb carefully towards the back, paying special attention to the ears, collar area, and base of the tail.
Ticks are not like fleas & can’t jump onto you or your pets. They latch on as you brush pass them, usually off nearby vegetation. They are tiny! When unfed they are as small as a sesame seed and can be easily mistaken for money spiders or dark spots on the skin, but when fully engorged with blood they can reach sizes of a coffee bean or broad-bean.
Once on board a pet, ticks generally stay put until they’ve finished feeding so it’s very uncommon for people to get ticks off their pets directly. Ticks can live for up to three years in total but tend to only spend up to two weeks on a host whilst they engorge themselves with blood. They will feed on a different single host at each of their life-cycle stages: larva, nymph and adult.
It’s worthwhile remembering that many products don’t prevent ticks from climbing on board or attaching and can take up to 48 hours to kill them. In some cases the ticks might be dead but still attached and therefore you can still see ticks on treated pets: the good news is though they should either be dead or dying. Always make sure you apply the right product to your pets – some tick products made for dogs are highly toxic to cats so always check what’s in the product you have!
Talk to your vet if you think your pet has a tick as they will be able to show you how to safely remove them without hurting your pet or leaving the tick mouthparts behind – do not attempt to burn them off, apply Vaseline or douse them with alcohol! There are special tick removers which can be used to help you.
You can buy special tick removal pliers or use a pair of tweezers as close to the skin as possible. It is advisable to wear gloves when doing this, and once you have removed the tick, dispose of it carefully, then clean the area with antiseptic lotion.
Fortunately there are some excellent flea and tick treatments available and some can be used as a preventative method too. The most effective preparations are usually available from your vet who will also be able to advise on suitability for puppies, although you may be able to purchase them via the internet and pharmacies as well.
Many complementary therapies claim to help repel fleas but they cannot kill them. Prescribed flea treatments are usually available in the form of shampoos, tablets, sprays or spot-on treatments.
These are very effective, but as they contain chemicals, it is important to follow instructions carefully and dispose of packaging carefully.