Fleas and ticks are external parasites that your dog can pick up either from the environment or from contact with other animals. Although fleas and ticks are quite different, it is important to consult your veterinarian on the prevention, treatment and control of both fleas and ticks.
How can you tell if your dog has fleas?
Fleas can be found on your dog’s skin and coat, usually roaming around the surface. Dark in colour and very small, fleas try to hide from the light, therefore, will most likely hibernate on a dog’s belly or inner thighs, as well as borrow behind ears, in armpits, or around the face and tail. Fleas do not have wings and can’t fly; rather, they are known for their jumping prowess and will find a way to nest and lay eggs on your dog and other animals your pet is in contact with, as well as all around your home. They thrive in warm conditions and can lay 40–50 eggs at once, multiplying your flea problem quickly.
The flea’s bite can cause much irritation and itching for your pet and is usually the first sign that your dog has fleas. Some animals are more sensitive or flea-allergic; in these cases, itching can be quite severe and lead to hair-loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections. For dogs that are hypersensitive to the flea’s saliva, it can be excruciating, as they will itch all over from the bite of only one flea!
If you believe your pet or home has fleas, do not hesitate to contact us at West Hill Animal Clinic. We offer safe, specialized flea treatment programs and advice to get rid of the uninvited guests.
How can you tell if your dog has ticks?
Ticks can be found everywhere from your local walking trail, dog park or even your own backyard. Anywhere that is moist, leafy and shady is prime tick territory where they can wait to infect your pet or even you, with possible serious diseases. Ticks that are found on your puppy or dog, have the potential to be infected with Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and a host of other diseases, which can go undetected if not tested for or treated. There are a number of different ticks who reside in North America. Ontario is no exception for these pests and the West Hill Animal Clinic team encourages you to check your pet for ticks each time you venture out into a wooded or grassy area with your dog.
“Tick season” is considered to be spring, summer and fall; when temperatures reach above 4 degrees Celsius. Brushing your fingers through your pet’s fur, especially checking between toes, behind ears, under armpits and around the tail is encouraged. You will discover a tick by applying pressure to feel for small bumps; a tick can vary in size, from a pinhead to a grape, depending on how long it has been attached to your pet. Removing ticks that have embedded themselves in your dog or cat can be tricky, as the tick can break off and certain portions can remain in your dog or cat’s skin. Should you suspect your pet has a tick attached, our West Hill veterinary staff encourages you to bring in your pet right away. We can safely remove the pest, treat to prevent infection, as well as test for possible diseases. Should you find a tick on your pet, please call us at West Hill Animal Clinic, so we can talk you through the proper removal of ticks.
What are the tests and treatments for ticks in dogs?
If you think your dog has encountered a tick, it is important to test for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is something that your dog will carry for its life because it is difficult to impossible to get rid of. It lays dormant and then creates symptoms unexpectedly at random times, often months or years apart. The symptoms are often nonspecific and can be simply lethargy, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes. Joint pain and skin rashes can occur as well. In some cases, it can be damaging to the kidneys. For this reason, it is important to test for Lyme disease. We recommend that if you have ever seen a tick on your dog, you should perform a 4Dx test every year. The 4DX test will look for both Lyme disease and heartworm, as well as other tick-borne illnesses.
If your dog has ever had a tick, remember to tell your veterinarian. The symptoms of Lyme disease can be so nonspecific, that veterinarians will often not look for it as the first step in diagnosis. A dog presenting with fever, lethargy and enlarged lymph nodes, could be caused by so many diseases, that a veterinarian may perform blood work, radiographs, and in-hospital treatments that can be extremely expensive, before doing a simple test for Lyme disease. If a quick Lyme test is performed and comes back positive, in most cases, it’s a simple matter of sending your dog home with antibiotics.
How to prevent fleas and ticks in dogs?
At West Hill Animal Clinic, we offer a variety of prevention medications to prevent fleas and ticks. Often, a consultation is the best way for your veterinarian team to help you to choose a prevention that is most suited to you and your dog’s lifestyle.