Fleas and ticks aren’t just annoying. They also pose a serious risk to your dog’s health and can even harm your human family members. Though they are tiny, they can become a huge problem. However, a veterinary visit can help you and your dog avoid issues with these pesky parasites. On this page we have addressed some of the most frequently asked questions about fleas, ticks, and how to protect your dog.
If you are located near San Francisco, CA, we would be happy to take your call and provide the protection your dog needs. We can be reached at (415) 333-0813 and we look forward to your canine companion’s first appointment with our exceptional team.
How does my dog get fleas and ticks?
Fleas and ticks are nasty little insects — to say the least! They climb or jump onto your pet from tall grass, wooded areas, or even from other pets inside your home. Your dog can pick up fleas and ticks from almost anywhere.
How long can fleas or ticks live on my dog?
Fleas and ticks don’t have long lifespans. However, they are very reproductive and produce many offspring that will reinfect your pet. Once your dog has fleas, the cycle will continue until you treat the entire infestation.
Can fleas and ticks spread from my dog to my home and family?
Yes, fleas and ticks can spread from your dog to your home and family. If your dog picks up these parasites outside, they will likely jump off inside your house once they have fed on your pet’s blood. Only about one to five percent of adult fleas remain on your dog during an active infestation. The rest are in your home laying their eggs in your carpet, on your furniture, or in your belongings. Protecting your family is one of the many reasons why it's so important to treat your dog for fleas and ticks.
Can my dog get fleas and ticks if they primarily stay inside?
It’s a common misconception that animals can’t get fleas or ticks if they don’t spend much time outside. Unfortunately, even quick trips outdoors can expose your dog to fleas and ticks. If you have other pets that spend more time outside, they can bring in parasites too. You could even bring fleas and ticks into your home if they catch a ride on your clothing or shoes.
Can dogs get fleas or ticks in the winter?
In cooler climates, fleas and ticks slow down during winter, but they don’t disappear. While the risk may be lower during cold weather, we still recommend keeping your dog on a flea and tick preventative year-round.
What factors can increase my dog’s risk of getting fleas and ticks?
The more time your dog spends outdoors — especially in wooded areas or high grass — without the use of a year-round preventative, the more likely they will get fleas or ticks.
What health problems can fleas and ticks cause my dog?
Because fleas and ticks survive by biting hosts and consuming their blood, they can cause several problems in pets.
In dogs, fleas and ticks can cause several health issues, including:
- Anemia from blood loss
- Flea allergy dermatitis
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Tick paralysis
In addition to these severe health problems, flea and tick infestations cause unpleasant symptoms, including itchy skin, hair loss, scabs, and hot spots.
How effective are flea and tick medications, and is there a difference between over-the-counter and prescription?
Today’s flea and tick medications — including the new isoxazoline drug class — are highly effective. Prescription products like Bravecto, Nexgard, Simparica, and Simparica Trio all belong to this class and do an excellent job of protecting pets against fleas and ticks.
Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications are not as effective. While many of them worked well in the past, fleas and ticks have developed resistance to them. Some don’t kill parasites at all, while others don’t work fast enough to prevent disease transmission. For the most effective treatment, stick to prescription flea and tick medications.
What are the different types of flea and tick preventatives?
There are several different types of flea and tick preventatives on the market. Some are oral medications that come in the form of a tasty treat. Topical medications are another common option. When applied to the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades, these products can also be highly effective. However, it can be difficult for topical medications to reach the skin of fluffy or long-haired dogs. As your dog’s veterinarian, we will recommend the preventative that best suits their needs, lifestyle, and breed.
What will my veterinarian recommend for a flea and tick treatment?
Our recommendations vary depending on several factors, like your dog’s age, lifestyle, and whether they have an active infestation. We may give your dog a bath to remove as many parasites as possible for active infestations. Then, we will recommend a safe and effective flea and tick preventative.
We also recommend treating and cleaning your dog’s home environment to prevent re-infestation. You’ll need to treat your carpets, couches, blankets, and drapery. When possible, we recommend treating your lawn, too.
How can I identify fleas and ticks on my dog?
The easiest way to identify fleas and ticks on your dog is to run your hand in the opposite direction of hair growth and look for signs of organisms living on the skin. Sometimes, you can see tiny black or dark brown insects moving in your dog’s fur; these are fleas. These specks can easily be mistaken for dirt in your pet’s coat.
Engorged ticks are easier to spot than ticks that haven’t eaten yet. There are different species, but they are generally tiny, black, oval-shaped insects with eight legs. They swell to the size of a small coffee bean after eating and are often gray or flesh-colored. Engorged ticks can resemble warts or skin lumps, but you should be able to see the legs upon closer inspection.
What should I do if I find fleas and ticks on my dog?
Bring them in right away if you spot fleas or ticks on your dog or have any reason to suspect they may have an infestation. The sooner we can examine your pet and confirm the presence of fleas and/or ticks, the sooner we can get them on an effective preventative.
Don’t let parasites bug your pet. For additional information about fleas and ticks or to schedule an appointment for your canine companion, please reach out to us today. Call (415) 333-0813.