As a loving pet owner, you wish that your pet should be free from all diseases and menaces like tick and flea. However ticks and fleas come, without regard to whatever you do to keep your pet clean, hygienic and away from danger zones.
And though there are thousands of species of these two tiny guys, only a single one of them is enough to create a big trouble. Therefore, you should start flea and tick treatment for dogs at once, upon finding that your pet has been infested.
From Where Do Fleas and Ticks Come to Your Dog?
Any flea- or tick-infested animal – stray or your neighbor’s or friend’s pet – can pass on its parasites to your dog. Wildlife in urban areas, especially raccoons and opossums, too can spread fleas’ eggs which female fleas lay in their coat into your environment while passing through your yard, just like a duster spreads dust in air when you shake it. Later, these eggs become adult fleas and find suitable conditions to live on your pet’s body.
Ticks are caught by dogs because dogs tend to frequent tick-infested areas, like high grass or woods. Ticks are actually hanging on low shrubs or grasses, usually 18 to 24 inches above the ground; they crawl up there – a process called questing.
When your dog walks by or through these grasses or shrubs, and her/his body rubs against them, ticks immediately detach from the plants and jump on your pet’s body. It’s a myth that ticks climb up trees; they actually just wait for a favorable host. And they can remain like that – without feeding – even up to about a year!
Do Ticks and Fleas Cause Disease to Dogs?
The trouble caused by fleas is while sucking blood of your dog, it ingests its saliva into the host’s body which contains allergenic proteins; so, the dog gets allergy. Thus, dogs (and cats too) catch a skin diseases from fleas, commonest amongst which is flea allergy dermatitis.
In this disease, the dog’s skin becomes itchy and when the dog bites and scratches the skin, hair at the site is lost. Only a few fleas are enough to make this problem big.
Another problem is even more serious and is caused when fleas are high in number. Since the parasite sucks blood, the dog soon loses its blood and becomes anemic to such an extent that it can even die due to lack of blood. This can happen especially in puppies.
At least one species of fleas passes tapeworms to pets.
Ticks are infamous for passing around 12 to 15 diseases like Lyme disease, tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and others. Several of these are life-threatening.
Do Some Areas have Heavy Populations of Ticks and Fleas?
Yes, ticks and fleas populations can differ from area to area and also season to season. E.g. the Gulf Coast area in North America is considered to be a capital of fleas.
To What Extent should Pet Owners be Worried?
There are so many diseases caused by ticks and fleas, and their populations vary so much from area to area and season to season that a pet owner can be easily confused how much s/he should be worried about the chances of her/his pet getting infested. Best thing to do in such a condition is to talk to your vet and get information on which tick and flea species is prevalent in your area and which disease they can cause, so that you can take preventive measures beforehand.
How to Treat Ticks and Fleas?
Listen to your vet! That’s the best thing you can do. Use only those products which the vet prescribes.
Other measures you can take are keeping your home as dry as possible, never let a cat go out, not having a carpet (as, it is the best friend of fleas), and keeping brush and weeds in the yard to bare minimum.