If you are a pet parent, you know there is always something to worry about. One of the nicest concerns is finding that perfect spot for scratching behind the ears (and that just takes practice). A much scarier issue to tackle is dog flea and tick season!
But unlike the other four seasons, laid out on the calendar and detectable by the weather outside, flea and tick season changes every year, based on a whole list of measurable living conditions for the pests. Flea and tick season can last all year in some places! Therein lies the scary part. If we protect our pets nine months out of the year with good flea and tick meds, we may feel our duty is done. But a small lapse can mean danger and discomfort for your dog or cat and might even mean veterinary bills that could make those three saved months of flea medication for dogs seem like a drop in the bucket. So how do you know when your pet needs protection? Enter the most useful tool in your online doggie bag: The Flea and Tick Map by PetCareRx.com.It's a customizable tool that lets you plug in your location and figure out the threat level to your pet from fleas and ticks right now. You and your pet should be able to play safely every season, so take a look and find out when your pet will need flea and tick protection.
How to Treat a Dog with Fleas
When you have a dog with fleas, things can go downhill fast. Fleas can suck lots of blood -- as much as 15 times their body weight in your pet's blood, and all that biting leads to itching and sometimes even anemia. Plus, one female flea can lay up to 200 eggs in 48 hours, making the cycle spiral out of control. And as if that weren't bad enough, fleas can transmit even worse parasites, like a tapeworm, for which you will have to use a dewormer for dogs. It's disgusting facts like those that keep products like K9 Advantix, K9 Advantix II, and Frontline Plus on the shelves. Here's how to treat a dog who has fleas and get back to flea-free sanity!
If Your Dog Is on a Preventative
If your dog was already on a monthly preventative, such as a spot-on or collar, you can:
Use a flea comb to get the fleas off your pet. Dunk the fleas you find in warm soapy water to kill them. Dispose of them immediately, preferably in an outdoor trashcan.
Use flea and tick treatment for dogs that are safe to use on top of a spot-on like Capstar or Comfortis, or flea collar, to zap the fleas.
Don't use a flea shampoo (also called a flea bath) since you'd be exposing your pet to a possible overdose of flea and tick treatment for dogs or cats.
If Your Dog Isn't on a Preventative
For flea and tick prevention for dogs, use Capstar or Comfortis to kill the fleas.
Once your treatment method has run its course (check the directions on the product -- Comfortis works to kill adult fleas for a month), you should get your dog on a routine flea preventative like a spot-on or a collar.
Fleas and Ticks Can Spread Diseases
Ticks and fleas can spread diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia. Ticks can also carry babesiosis (a parasitic infection that affects red blood cells) and other rare diseases.
Fleas are common in both cats and dogs—and some species of fleas can also bite people. Flea allergy dermatitis is a skin condition that causes intense itching after being bitten by a flea. It affects up to 10 percent of dogs and 4 percent of cats, who may scratch so much from the itchiness that they injure themselves or develop sores on their skin!
A flea comb is a good way to keep track of how well you're controlling fleas. If you find that the majority of your dog's hair is covered in fleas, it's time to change something up. If you don't see any, that means that your plan of attack is working!
First, you should identify the fleas and ticks on your pets. You should also check for signs of infestation on your pets as well as in their bedding or wherever they spend most of their time. Another good place to look is under furniture, rugs, and carpeting, where it may be hard to see any evidence of an infestation.
Once you have identified what kind of pests are present, whether they are fleas or ticks, then you can do something about it! If you have an infestation of either type, several different ways will work effectively against them without having negative side effects on other living creatures.
Remember, the best way to protect your pets from fleas and ticks is regular grooming and medication. Make sure to check in with your veterinarian every year to make sure your pet is up on its preventative treatment. You can also make a difference in the world by being careful about what products you use for pesticides in your yard or home. Try using natural repellents like lemon eucalyptus oil which have been proven effective against these pests!
Has the problem already multiplied so that fleas are in pet beds, in your home, or living in your yard? Find out how to get rid of fleas in 8 steps with our interactive infographic.