Summer generally means more outdoor fun but can also signal the start of flea and tick season.

Get ready with our quick guide to fleas and ticks so that your summer is more ‘careflea’ and keep the good times ticking on!

Why is flea and tick prevention important?

Well, in a nutshell, fleas and ticks are parasites and feed on the blood of other animals. They can cause some serious diseases and complications so it’s important to try to prevent them latching on. Fleas can cause allergies, infection, dermatitis and anemia among other issues. Ticks are somewhat nastier and bites can lead to serious complications like Lyme disease, abscesses, paralysis, fevers and death.

What are the symptoms of fleas and ticks?

During summer it’s important to check your dog regularly for fleas and ticks. What are you looking for exactly? “Flea dirt” – a dark dust which is actually flea poop or flea eggs – small white granules in the fur. You might also notice the actual fleas jumping around. Once the fleas have taken hold, your dog might show symptoms like itching, being unsettled, twitching, licking or biting.

Ticks will be more obvious to spot on your pet and it’s strongly advisable to do a tick check every day during warmer months and especially if you’ve visited tick hotspots which are generally rural or forested areas. If ticks go unnoticed, other symptoms might start to appear that indicate disease such as loss of appetite, fever, swelling in the joints, respiratory problems or jaundice.

It’s vital in both the case of a flea infestation or tick bite to take your furry friend for a vet check in case of complications.

How should I treat fleas and ticks?

If your dog already has fleas, it’s important to treat it right away. You’ll need to treat them, all other pets and your house. First, seek advice from your vet and they will likely recommend oral or topical treatments for your pets, sprays or powders for your home and maybe even a treatment for your garden if you suspect the fleas are there too. 

Ticks can be a persistent problem if you live in a rural or forested area and it’s best to take some preventative measures in summer. But, tick bites happen regardless. Buy a tick remover tool and always carry it with you on walks, along with some alcohol and a container. If you spot a tick already attached to your dog, remove it with the tool, pulling it straight out to remove the head (wear protective gloves if possible) and place the tick in the container with alcohol. Preserve the tick in case the vet wants to see it, should other symptoms develop. Keep an eye on your canine companion in the following days, watching out for other symptoms. Always go check with your vet if you notice anything unusual. 

Prevention: when should I do it?

Fleas and ticks are more prevalent in the warmer temperatures during the summer months.

Fleas can transfer from other animals, can live in gardens in homes so it’s best to think about prevention. They can jump long distances so an infestation can happen very easily. You can be vigilant about washing bedding, keeping weeds in check in the garden and hoovering but this may not stop the fleas. 

Ticks are more likely to linger in rural or forested areas – in long grass, undergrowth and areas where there are animals like deer, foxes or rodents. If you like to go for long walks with doggie in the summer, doing some preventative treatment is a good idea.

Ask a local vet for advice about your individual pet and the geographical risk factors. Your vet will be able to suggest when you begin preventative treatment and how frequently you should perform it. 

DONATE FOR FLEA & TICK TREATMENTS FOR STREET DOGS 

What are preventative flea and tick treatments for dogs?

Generally there are three forms of preventative treatments for fleas and ticks on dogs. There are flea and tick collars, oral preventative treatments and topical. The collars seem to have mixed efficacy, however some dog owners swear by them. The topical treatments are known as ‘spot-on’ treatments and are administered between the dog’s shoulder blades. These treatments have a high efficacy rate. Oral tablets are the third option and if your dog is used to taking medicine orally, these can work well. Of course, as with any medications, dogs can experience side effects so always talk with your vet if you notice any upsets or unusual symptoms. 

Could I use nontoxic flea and tick products?

Flea and tick treatments often get a bad rep for the chemicals that they contain which can be dangerous for pets and other household members alike. Sadly there’s no natural product that will blast fleas and ticks. In fact, it’s important to be cautious with ‘natural’ products as many contain essential oils which can be harmful to pets.

But you can of course educate yourself on which chemicals are less harmful, as well as keeping your house and garden clean and tidy. It’s important to use flea and tick treatments properly and follow your vet’s advice without overusing any harmful products.

Have a ‘careflea’ summer and ticks be gone!

The bottom line is that if you know you live in a geographical region where fleas and ticks exist, be prepared. There are many preventative measures you can take, from cleaning to responsible gardening to educating yourself on the best treatments for your dog. Knowing what to do in the event of a flea infestation or tick bite is vital, and having the right tools to hand can prevent disease and suffering for your furry friend.

 

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About the author

Vaila Erin is a writer, lover of animals, and a bit of a nomad. For her, life is about stories — observing yourself and others so that you can laugh, cry and entertain each other with its absurdities. Connect with her at vailaerin.com or via LinkedIn.
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