External parasites, such as fleas and ticks, can be very dangerous for our pets – especially young animals. If enough fleas get on an animal it can make them anaemic, not to mention the discomfort for your pet (and potentially you) that the bugs can cause.
Like people, lots of cats and dogs can have an allergic reaction to flea bites. There are several different species of fleas. Animals can be infested with several species at once and will react differently to each.
Did you know?
The most common flea found on a dog is actually a cat flea!
The good news is that your pet can be treated for fleas from a very young age, so you can start to protect your pet as soon as they arrive. How frequently you apply treatment will depend on the product – be sure to read the information given and follow the advice as directed on the product.
If you would like more advice on what treatment to use, your vet will be happy to help. At the surgery we can provide a greater variety of products than you can buy over the counter and can offer advice on what products will work best for you and your pet.
If your pet has reacted to a flea bite it is important to seek guidance from your vet.
Ticks carry diseases that can be serious for you and your dog.
You are most likely to find ticks in areas with lots of deer or sheep, but they can be found in woodland, grassland and even your garden if you live in an area with lots of wildlife.
They are most common in spring and autumn but can be found at any time of year.
Always check yourself and your dog for ticks after you return from a walk or from time in the garden and quickly remove any that you find.
How to remove a tick
Ticks are big enough to spot on your pet’s skin. They range in size from 1mm to 1cm and will feel like a small bump to touch if you run your hands over your pet’s skin.
Removing a tick from your dog’s body needs to be done with care. You need to make sure that you do not squeeze the flea (this can cause blood that has been sucked into the flea to be pushed back into your dog, increasing the risk of infection) or leave the tick’s head inside your dog.
Twisting the flea off your dog is the best method. A simple tick removal tool is available from pet shops that will help with this and we strongly recommend having a couple of these to hand – ideally one for the home and one to have in your car.
If you will be visiting areas where ticks may be a concern, we strongly recommend using a treatment that will repel ticks or kill them if they do attach to your dog. Different types of treatment are available, including skin applications, collars and tablets. Collars can be used from 8 months of age. Finding the right product for your pet and lifestyle is key – for example, if you will be regularly holidaying in an area like Dartmoor where there is lots of wildlife you will need to treat more frequently.
If you would like more advice on dealing with ticks, please speak to one of our vets.