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How Can I Help My Dog Avoid Fleas or Ticks?

Flea and tick prevention is a struggle for every dog owner. No one likes the thought of their pet being tormented by biting pests or, even worse, the possibility of their dog bringing a bug infestation into their home. They might be small, but these tiny insects can lead to a multitude of problems. Tapeworms, Typhus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the Bubonic plague are just a few of the things that can be spread by fleas and ticks, not to mention the discomfort they can cause. Helping a dog avoid flea and tick problems is not something that can be handled with a one-time treatment. Responsible pet owners often wonder if they can completely prevent fleas and ticks to help their dogs stay healthy and comfortable. They're asking themselves an important question, but slightly incorrect. They should be asking “how can I help my dog avoid fleas and ticks as much as possible?” 

Answer: Several Lines of Defense Will Work Together to Provide Protection

Oral medications are the first line of defense in the war against parasites. This potent preventative measure only requires pet owners to stick to a schedule and spend a few minutes of time administering their chosen medication once a month. Another highly effective method of pest control is topical medication. Like oral preventatives, topicals wear off over time and must be reapplied regularly. There are also other measures that pet owners can take to prevent and control infestations, including repellent collars, regular grooming, herbal supplements, and frequent vacuuming. These options vary in effectiveness and should be paired with more reliable methods for complete protection against fleas and ticks.

When choosing a preventative medication, it is important to note that each active ingredient works in a different way. Some work by killing adult fleas. Others are especially effective in situations where exposure to a possible flea infestation cannot be avoided, such as pet boarding facilities. Other medicines are still passed to adult fleas but with a different goal. These medications prevent the adult bugs from reproducing, rendering them sterile, and are better suited for long-term flea prevention. Many oral flea medications also eliminate adult ticks. However, because the medicine can only eliminate the tick after it bites the dog, many veterinarians recommend pet owners also use a topical repellent.

One of the most effective topical tick repellents disrupts the pest's nervous system and prevents it from being able to attach itself to a dog. This medication is strong and should never be used on cats. They will stimulate rapid-fire nerve impulses in insects that ultimately lead to their quick demise. These chemicals are generally safe for dogs and can be found in many flea and tick shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical medications. Again, specifically, ensure that the chosen treatments are only used for dogs and other pets are safe. 

Additional Resources

Regular use of flea and tick medications is only one way that owners can prevent fleas and ticks from bothering their dogs. Veterinarians, pet groomers, and the internet can all be valuable sources of information on other weapons in the battle against parasites. Further information about flea and tick prevention methods can be found at the following sites.

  1. The American Kennel Club – Established in 1884, The American Kennel Club has long been active in promoting canine health. This article helps dog owners understand how a flea infestation can occur and what steps they can take to get rid of the small pests. Other articles on the site inform pet owners about their local flea and tick seasons, discuss the importance of preventative medication, and offer tips on how to avoid bug problems.
  2. Consumer Reports – Consumer Reports is a nonprofit agency that has been committed to unbiased research, product testing, and consumer advocacy since 1936. In this article, they provide pet owners with an easy to follow guide on steps they can take to keep their furry friends safe from fleas.
  3. ASPCA – The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was established in 1866 and has dedicated itself to bettering the lives of animals in the United States. This article discusses what can cause an infestation, how to recognize the signs of a flea or tick problem, treatment and prevention options, and possible complications caused by parasites.

Questions to Consider