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What to Do If Your Pet Has Fleas or Ticks

Our dogs are our loyal companions, so we always want to see them happy and healthy. But like most creatures on the planet, they can be afflicted with conditions that make them miserable and uncomfortable. One of the most common purveyors of such discomfort is a dog that is covered in fleas or ticks.

Many ticks carry pathogens that, if left untreated, can prove lethal, as is the case with humans. Fleas, much like ticks, feast on the blood of creatures they catch a ride on. While fleas do not pose a risk to humans, they can cause serious skin irritations. For dogs, this goes a step further, not only resulting in skin conditions but also potentially causing allergic reactions. Worse than that, because many fleas all drinking from the dog at the same time consume so much blood, it can result in a dog developing anemia.

The key to keeping the dog healthy is vigilance and early detection. In other words, prevention is the best treatment, but that cannot always be achieved. Inspecting your pet for signs of fleas and ticks can help address problems early on. But if a dog is covered in fleas or a tick is found, how should the owner attend to their pet to assure thorough cleaning. The size of fleas and ticks and the potential of the pest being anywhere on the dog’s body can make detection tough, but getting through a thorough cleaning is entirely another matter.

So what should be done to mitigate the chances of a flea or tick assault on your pet? If they still make their way on, what can be done to help rid your pet of these pests?


Prevention is the absolute best defense. Since avoiding ticks and fleas from outside can be a near impossibility, the best we can hope for is to start indoors. The areas most frequented by your dog should be sprayed every four months by the long-term flea hormone Precor. Precor sterilizes any flea offspring that come in contact with it, preventing them from being able to reproduce and function normally. This reduces the chances of their presence being detrimental. Precor spray should be applied to carpets, furniture, and upholstery, but it should at no time be sprayed on the pet’s skin.

Keeping the dog’s skin healthy is the next best preventative step. The evolutionary purpose of fleas is to remove unhealthy animal breeds, which is why they are drawn to damaged or flaky pet skin. To address this issue before it becomes bad and invites more pests, start with your dog’s diet. Vitamin C boosts immunity to illness and B-complex vitamins promote skin health. These can be introduced into your dog’s food in the form of flaxseed oil and calcium ascorbate powder.  Other recommended methods of skin health include incorporating garlic in the dog’s food (as it serves as a natural flea repellent) and supplementing meals with black walnut capsules which similarly carry flea-resistant properties.

Getting Rid Of Fleas And Ticks

Prevention will go a long way, but it is not a surefire way to address all pest issues that could plague your dog. Daily or weekly combing with a flea comb is a good way to keep track of your pet’s skin. The good news is pets enjoy it as it provides relief from any itchiness, so they are likely to let you brush them for as long as you feel is necessary. The comb’s individual spokes are spaced in such a way that they pull the fleas out when running through.

When seeing fleas on the comb, do not try to squish or crush them. They are too quick and evasive, being able to jump quickly out of your reach, and then they are loose in your home. Instead, keep a cup of hot water next to you, and quickly dip the comb in it to kill them rapidly. Flea preventative medication, which can be recommended by your vet, will still help get rid of fleas if the dog already has them.

You also need to consider that if fleas were on your dog, they may have gotten into your house. Regular vacuuming helps, but it’s important to keep in mind that flea eggs can still thrive even when vacuumed, so dumping the vacuum bag should happen soon after the vacuuming occurs. Any linens that the dog may have touched need to also be washed on a hot, soapy cycle.

Removing ticks is a bit of a different matter. When you find a tick (or multiples) on a dog, the animal may not even recognize they are there due to the anesthetic agent the tick injects upon biting. However, removing ticks can be a tedious process. First, it needs to be done as soon as detected as some species of ticks can transmit their pathogens within hours. Using a pair of fine-point tweezers, spread the dog’s fur to avoid grabbing any of it with the tweezer pinch, and pull with a slow, steady outward motion. This is important to prevent the tick’s mouth from remaining under the dog’s skin as even when separated from its body, it can still exert the pathogen into the dog’s blood.

Another tick option removal is a tick hook. This essentially embodies the tick and pulls it steadily out from the dog’s skin. Make sure you inspect the dog thoroughly for other ticks and remove them all systematically. The areas affected should be treated with alcohol to kill off any bacteria from remaining on the skin. After removal, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly to prevent any of the potential toxins from remaining on your person.

What To Avoid

Chemical sprays on the dog are not only ineffective, but they could also cause adverse effects on the skin. This can lead to corrosive burns, itching, and irritation. This can cascade into your dog being more temperamental and miserable.

It is also to remember that mixing flea and tick repellent medication is never advised. They could have interactive properties, causing your dog more harm. They may also counteract each other, rendering all ineffective. Additionally, if your dog has an allergic reaction, you will not be sure which medication caused it.