Your dog has been constantly scratching, you go and take a closer look and see little black specs. Maybe you see what looks like something that is moving in between your dog’s furs. It could be fleas, so you have to think about flea treatment for dogs.
Part of being a responsible dog parent is noticing changes in your dog’s behavior. If your furry baby shows signs like persistent scratching, hair loss, red bumps on the skin, dandruff and skin inflammation then chances are it has external parasites. The most commonly observed external parasites in dogs are fleas and ticks. Both fleas and ticks are bloodsucking parasites capable of causing significant blood losses that can eventually lead to anemia. Additionally, they can transmit certain dangerous and even life-threatening diseases. In a nutshell, flea and ticks are creepy, crawly and disease-carrying creatures.
As the old saying goes, “it is better to be safe than sorry”. This applies to fleas and ticks too. Preventing flea and ticks infestations is much easier than eliminating them once they start parasitizing on your canine baby. Fortunately, there are a plethora of different flea and tick prevention treatments – from spot-on treatments and collars to chewable tablets and organic shampoos.
In the following article, we have listed the top 5 benefits of using flea and tick treatments for your dog.
Benefits of flea treatment for dogs
1. Prevention of flea-borne diseases
Fleas can cause diseases and conditions on their own or carry and transmit causative agents of other diseases. The most commonly encountered flea-related diseases are:
- Flea allergy dermatitis – common skin problem caused by the flea’s saliva. It manifests with itchiness and skin irritation and redness. It should be noted that not all dogs are allergic to fleas.
- Anemia – particularly common in young puppies with severe infestations. Puppies start showing signs of anemia (pale gums, difficulty breathing and low energy levels) when a significant amount of blood is lost. These puppies have iron deficiency.
- Tapeworms – yes, as odd as it may sound, fleas can carry and transmit certain types of tapeworms. Fleas normally contain tapeworm larvae. When the dog grooms itself, it accidentally ingests flea (along with the flea’s tapeworm larvae). The tapeworm larvae continue their development in the dog’s digestive system and then start parasitizing.
2. Prevention of tick-borne diseases
Many diseases can be transmitted through ticks. Some of the most important tick-borne diseases include:
- Babesia – manifests with anemia, jaundice, neurological symptoms, fever, weight loss, pale gums, lack of energy and liver issues.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever – manifests with stiff walking, painful joints, fever, coughing, loss of coordination, depression, lethargy and an irregular heartbeat.
- Lyme disease – manifests with spontaneous lameness, fatigue and reluctance to move.
- Ehrlichiosis – manifests with lack of appetite, runny eyes, and nose, joint pain, and lameness.
- Anaplasmosis – manifests with leg lameness, reluctance to move, neurological signs, neck pain, lack of appetite, spontaneous nose bleeds and bruising on the belly and gums.
- Tick paralysis – manifests with the weakness of the legs, weak reflexes, and respiratory distress.
Dogs with heavy tick infestations may show signs of anemia (pale gums, difficulty breathing, low energy levels).
3. Keeping your home and yard free of fleas
Treating the dog against fleas is pointless if flea problems exist in your home or yard. The entire environment must be adequately treated to remove fleas in all stages of the life cycle.
Unfortunately, the flea is extremely resistant to environmental conditions, chemicals and cleaning methods. They can survive without a host for an extended period of times because they feed on dead skin cells and dandruff.
Usually, professional cleaning and exterminating procedures are required to eliminate flea problems once they appear.
4. Keeping your home and yard free of ticks
In nature, ticks live in moist and humid environments. They usually prefer grassy and wooded areas. However, heavily infested dogs shed ticks in their close environment. If the conditions are appropriate, shed ticks may continue their life cycles and serve as a source for future infestation. Once they are present in your home or yard, they are hard to exterminate because of their resistance to environmental conditions and chemicals.
Generally speaking, in temperate climates, ticks are a problem during spring and summer, while in warmer regions, they are a problem all year round.
5. Preventing flea and tick bites on you and your family
Fleas do not actually live on human skin or hair. However, they do bite and carry and spread certain diseases to humans. These diseases include murine typhus, tapeworms, mycoplasmosis and cat scratch fever. Even if the flea bite is not infectious, it is still painful, irritating and itchy.
Similar to the flea, ticks do not usually live on humans. This is because the dog’s skin has a more pleasant odor to ticks that the human’s. However, under certain circumstances, ticks may attach to humans. Once attached they are dangerous because they cause intense and painful itching followed by secondary skin infections. Occasionally, ticks may carry and spread seriously fatal illnesses – Lyme disease, Rocky Mountains spotted fever, Powassan disease, Heartland virus disease and Bourbon virus disease. It should be noted that ticks can spread multiple diseases at once.
All in all, it can be concluded that flea and ticks are pesky parasites. In spite of their small size, flea and ticks can be quite dangerous. In fact, they pose a threat far bigger than their actual size. Flea and ticks are dangerous for both you and your furry canine companion. Therefore infestations with these parasites require immediate and adequate attention.
As previously mentioned, prevention is easier and more cost-effective than elimination. New modern anti-flea and anti-tick products are commercially available and easy to use. While it can be difficult to deal with ticks and fleas outdoors, with your dog you can at least prevent infestation. Unlike older treatments that were dusted, sprayed or shampooed over the whole coat, many modern treatments can be applied as “spot-on” treatments to the back of the neck. Other modern treatments come in the form of collars and some come in the form of tasty, chewable treats. Regardless of the type and mode of application, these modern treatments spread and offer effective protection to the whole body.
Author Bio– Lisa Jennings is an editor for DogBedZone.com where we review dog-related products and produce buyer’s guides. We just published our recent guide on the best flea and tick treatments for dogs. She enjoys writing about dogs and their owners. Sharing personal stories with her dog Maxx, a Chihuahua.