Fleas & Ticks

How does my dog get fleas and ticks?

Animals and humans can get fleas and ticks simply by going outside. Fleas can hop onto clothing and ticks can latch on. When the human or animal comes back inside, the fleas and ticks can hop off and find their way to a pet. Anything that goes outside has the potential to get fleas and ticks and bring them inside.

Dr. Kelley Wallace
Catawba Heights Animal Hospital

Can fleas and ticks spread to my home and family?

Yes, once fleas and ticks enter your home, they can spread to humans and other mammals. Fleas are attracted to warmth, humidity, and vibration, and will seek out any mammal, such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and chinchillas, to bite and get a blood meal. They lay eggs that fall off into the environment and can stay in the pupa stage for several years before hatching when the right conditions arise to start the cycle again.

What health problems can fleas and ticks cause my dog?

Fleas and ticks can cause several health problems in dogs. They can transmit intestinal parasites like tapeworms, which live inside the flea. Then, when your dog or cat licks or grooms itself, they swallow the flea, which releases the tapeworm eggs. Around 21 days later, you will notice little grains of what looks like white rice on your pet’s rectum. These grains are tapeworm segments. In kittens and small dogs, too many fleas can cause flea bite anemia in severe infestations, which can be fatal to small animals.

How effective are flea and tick medications?

Flea and tick medications are generally effective when used correctly. There are two categories of medications: EPA products (topical treatments that don't enter the system) and FDA products (oral treatments or topical products that contain heartworm prevention). EPA products are only effective against fleas and ticks and include Frontline, Advantage, and Advantix. FDA products include topicals like Advantage Multi and Revolutions and oral products like Bravecto, and Credelio. These medications work by killing fleas and ticks as well as their eggs and larvae, and they have a lasting effect, providing protection for 30 days or longer as opposed to the flea and tick dips we used to use in the past.

Is there a collar I can put on my dog for fleas and ticks?

Most flea and tick collars are not very effective, with the exception of the Seresto collar by Bayer. This collar lasts for eight months and provides effective protection against fleas and ticks when fitted properly. Other collars aren’t as effective, as the flea would have to come into contact with the collar, but most fleas reside around the base of the tail or between the hind legs.

What will my veterinarian recommend for flea and tick treatment?

Most veterinarians will recommend a flea and tick treatment that includes an insect growth regulator (IGR), which targets both adult fleas and ticks and their offspring and has a lasting effect. Most veterinarians will lean towards oral medication because it cannot be washed off like topical treatments, which must be applied with care. With topical treatment, one must also be mindful of what shampoo you're using to wash your pet. If you're using a shampoo that contains a detergent, the shampoo will strip the grease off the pet, and the topical treatments sit in the grease glands, so it will pull the product off. Therefore, it is recommended to use a non-soap shampoo as per your veterinarian’s suggestion.

How can I identify fleas and ticks on my dog, and what should I do if I see them?

Fleas are small, black, and can jump. They leave behind a black, crusty substance called flea dirt, which is essentially dried-up flea feces. Ticks are larger and have multiple legs. They attach to the skin and can transmit diseases like Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Lyme Disease. In 2019, North Carolina became a Lyme state, and Lyme Disease is very prominent in the northern regions, but it is becoming prevalent in our area as well.

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