Dogs are prone to dog fleas and tick infections. Dogs can get flee and tick infections from grassy, shrubby and woody areas, as both these insects use these environments to breed. Dog flea larvae climb up long blades of grass, or other high vegetation, waiting for warm-blooded animals to pass by and brush against the vegetation. Dog ticks have two life cycle stages — the six-legged larva and the eight-legged nymph — that behave similarly to dog flea adults to find warm-blooded animals to feed off. Dog ticks life cycle stages occur most often during the four seasons. The eggs are laid in summer, the larvae hatch in autumn, the larvae molt into nymphs in winter, and the nymphs molt into adults in spring.
Generally, the season that is safest is winter, when the bugs either die of extreme cold or are dormant. Dog fleas and ticks are more active when the environment is damp, humid, and temperatures range between 60°F and 69°F. The months between April and October are when these conditions prevail.
The early signs of flea infestation in dogs are
More serious symptoms are caused by infection caused by bacteria carried by dog fleas and ticks. These symptoms develop within one day of infection and can worsen over the next few days
At the outset of a flea or tick infestation, the use of shampoos, powders and flea collars may help. Use tick removal tools and grooming combs to physically remove the pests. Care must be taken to dispose of the removed pest and dirt so that the infestation can be controlled.
Lately, topical liquid insecticides are available to apply directly on dogs’ skin. Also available are “top-spot” products, topical liquids that are applied between the shoulder blades of dogs; to be used once a month. These products can be used for prevention too. Consulting a veterinarian is advisable, to ensure that the pet is receiving the correct treatment, as all these products are not generic.
The most common diseases caused by dog fleas are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Fever. These diseases can bring on fever, arthritis, joint swelling, lameness; and are sometimes fatal.
Lyme disease is easily treated with antibiotics and needs to continue for a few weeks. The symptoms disappear quickly, though. If the disease has progressed to affect the kidneys, the antibiotics treatment is extended and supplemented with other medications.
Rocky Mountain Fever is also treated with antibiotics, normally for a period of three weeks, along with probiotics to maintain the good gut bacteria.
Dog fleas and ticks can be dangerous to pets and humans, if not prevented or treated early.