Flea and tick control in dogs

Fleas and ticks are a right pest, with many owners spending lots of money to keep them at bay, and for good reason, as they can cause a number of conditions and ailments that range from annoying to life-threatening if not treated.

What are the health risks from fleas and ticks in dogs?

Flea bites are not just annoying, for your dog, they can cause a range of symptoms from mild scratching to allergic reactions from the flea saliva that can have your dog scratching till his skin is red raw and broken, potentially leading to bacterial skin infections. As well as being responsible for the itching, the flea is also the host for tapeworm. Fortunately, this is easily treatable and causes nothing worse than an itchy backside.

Ticks, however, are generally a far more serious problem, especially when the weather is warmer. It's the female tick that does the damage from a toxin that is passed to the dog when feeding on blood. This toxin can cause paralysis which can be fatal if not treated.

Dogs are also prone to Lyme disease from tick bites, just as humans are. The symptoms can include lameness, liver problems, stiffness in the joints, lack of appetite. It can be treated with antibiotics, but the symptoms can persist for many years.

All year round prevention and protection from fleas and ticks

We've all heard the old saying that prevention is better than cure and this applies equally here. Don't wait till you see your dog scratching furiously before you start thinking about treatment. Many vets are of the opinion that long-term treatment offers the best protection. Nowadays there is a wide range of natural and traditional chemical treatments. Always ensure that you follow the recommendations for dosages and treatment.

For ticks, avoid letting your dog roam in potentially tick-infested locations. Always check your dog's coat and skin daily and remove ticks by hand.

Preventing fleas in dogs

Keeping your dog clean is a good place to start as fleas prefer muckier places. Our Pennyroyal shampoo is an all natural shampoo containing a volatile oil from the leaf that actively repels insects.

Don't use old products as they often lose their effectiveness over time.

Clean up your outside space and remove any old leaves and garden waste that can provide a haven for fleas, as they like the shade.

Tick and flea collars will also help in long-term prevention but are not suitable for removing large infestations.

Treating Fleas in dogs

There is a wide range of both natural and chemical treatments for fleas. Major brand names include Frontline and Advantix and are available in tablets, top spots and sprays.

Preventing tick problems in dogs

There are combine flea and tick collars as well as chews that can be taken to minimise the conditions caused by fleas and ticks. Your vet will be able to advise on an appropriate solution for your dog.

Treating ticks in dogs

Any tick should be removed as soon as possible. Do not squeeze the tick, but use a pair of tweezers to gently extract the tick from the skin in a straight steady motion. Clean the affected skin with alcohol, iodine or soap and water. And don't forget to clean your own hands.

You may want to visit your vet as the toxin already inside work for up to 24 hours.

Do not give dog treatments to cats

Whilst it may be tempting to give your cat the same topspot as your dog, a number of dog treatments contain ingredients that are harmful to cats.

Do regular checks on your dog

Ensure your dog is regularly examined for fleas and ticks, especially after exercise. During vet visits get them examined for any signs of problems due to fleas and ticks.


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Flea and tick control in dogs

Photo: Miyo Sekimoto