Is Your Dog Safe From Fleas and Ticks?
Fleas and ticks – they’re no big deal, right? Doesn’t every dog get them?
While it’s true that fleas and ticks are common parasites that affect most dogs at one point or other in their lives, it’s not true that these biting, blood-sucking little fiends are no big deal. Flea and tick infestations can post a serious risk to your dog’s health – and even to your own!
Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your dog and your home from fleas and ticks, and the diseases they can carry. Through proper lawn care, the use of flea and tick prevention for your pet, and appropriate management of any infestations in your home, you and your pet can enjoy a life free of the discomfort of flea and tick bites, and the dangerous symptoms of flea- and tick-borne illness.
The Dangers of Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks can irritate your pet with itchy bites, and cause health problems that range from comparatively minor to lethal. A severe flea infestation alone is enough to kill a very young or weak dog, because it can cause flea anemia.
Both fleas and ticks feed on your dog’s blood, and they’ll even feed on your blood if they can. If you’ve ever been bitten by a flea, you know how unpleasant it can be. Itchy flea bites can cause your dog to scratch, which can contribute to the development of hot spots, and those can lead to secondary skin infections. Dogs can also have allergic reactions to fleas, which can result in an itchy, irritated rash known as flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas can spread intestinal tapeworms and can even cause typhus, a serious bacterial infection that’s contagious to humans.
Ticks, too, carry many serious illnesses, some of which are also contagious to humans. Tick paralysis can cause your dog to have trouble walking, breathing, and swallowing. Diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis can make you or your dog seriously ill or even prove fatal.
Protect Your Dog from Fleas and Ticks
Many dog owners choose to use flea sprays, flea collars, topical flea preventions, or other medications to protect their dogs from fleas and ticks, and that’s a great first step. But fleas and ticks are so pervasive that a multi-pronged approach to prevention is best.
Proper lawn care is one of the most effective steps you can take to protect your dog, and your whole family, from fleas and ticks. Adult fleas and ticks hide in long grass, waiting for a dog, cat, or human to come along and offer them the chance for a better life. You can crush their dreams by keeping your grass trimmed short, which will make your lawn less appealing to them. Discourage feral cats and wild animals from coming into your yard; lock up trash cans and keep bowls of pet food inside. Treat your lawn, shrubs, and trees with an insecticide like Trushield flea & tick control to keep fleas and ticks from bothering your dog or your family. Plant shrubs and trees far enough apart from one another and from your house to allow light and air to circulate around them; this discourages the proliferation of flea eggs and larvae.
When you bring your dog home from a walk, a hike, or an afternoon at the dog park, make sure to check his fur for fleas and ticks before you bring him in the house. Running a brush or flea comb through your dog’s fur before you bring him inside can keep fleas and ticks from infesting your home. Does your dog have long fur? Consider cutting it in the summer to make it easier to spot parasites close to the skin.
Inside your home, make sure you keep things clean. Finding fleas or ticks in your home doesn’t reflect poorly on your housekeeping skills, but by vacuuming regularly and cleaning low-traffic areas under furniture and around baseboards, you can keep fleas away. Put a flea in your vacuum cleaner bag to kill eggs and larvae after they’ve been sucked up. Cleaning your pet’s bed regularly also cuts down on fleas. Remember, the adult fleas you see represent only one to five percent of the flea population in your home – the other 95 percent are eggs, pupae, and larvae!
Fleas and ticks represent a serious danger to your dog’s health and safety, but you can protect him with proper yard care, flea and tick preventives, and a little extra vacuuming. Keep your dog safe from fleas and ticks, so you can both enjoy his good health.