Fleas and Ticks

By: DogTrekker Staff
Dog scratching fleas
Itchin' and scratchin'. (CC) Colin Northway

By Dr. Rhonda Stallings, Arroyo Veterinary Hospital

Each year, the flea problem seems to be getting worse and worse. Products that have been working for years now appear to have lost their effectiveness.

Fleas are not only an annoyance. They can cause severe allergic reactions in dogs and carry diseases that can be transmitted to our pets and humans.

We can protect ourselves by wearing long sleeves and light-colored clothing (so the ticks that cling to our clothes are visible) and checking ourselves after the hike. Our dogs, however, don’t have protective clothing. Ticks quickly climb through their fur and attach to the pet’s skin, transmitting diseases within three to six hours.

One of the best things we can do for our pets is to prevent ticks and fleas from getting on their bodies in the first place.

There are a number of products on the market now for flea and tick control, and I’m sure each of you have your favorite, as does your veterinarian. There are topical products that should prevent ticks from implanting; however some of these can be toxic to cats – especially if your cat likes to snuggle with your dog! There are also other types of products such as tick and flea collars and there’s also a new flea and tick oral medication that is available only through your veterinarian by prescription. It seems to be working very well on our dogs right now.

Talk to your veterinarian about flea and tick prevention and what is the safest for your pet’s lifestyle and your household.

If you do find a tick embedded on your pet here’s the recommended way to remove  it:

  • Use fine forceps to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and then pull back using slow, steady, pressure. Gloves should be worn to prevent zoonotic infection in the event a tick is inadvertently crushed during removal.
  • Care should be taken to avoid crushing, twisting, or jerking the tick out of the skin because this may result in increased host exposure to pathogens within the tick or cause the mouth parts to break off in the skin, which may lead to granuloma formation.