Do you know how to spot signs of fleas, ticks, and lice on your dog? These tiny pests can be more than just a nuisance; they can actually make your dog sick. Here are some tips to help you spot each parasite.
Fleas are reddish brown and about the size of a pin head. It’s difficult to spot these tiny insects unless you see them running or jumping on your dog. They are frequently found in the groin, armpits, and ears. Another way to discover whether your dog has fleas is to wash him. Fleas eat – and poop – blood. What looks like dirt on your dog will turn red when it gets wet. This “flea dirt” is a certain sign that your dog has fleas. They are more prevalent in warmer climates and during the summer.
Ticks embed their jaws into your dog’s skin and feast on his blood until they are bloated, at which point they will fall off. Ticks may carry several dangerous diseases, so it is important to regularly check your dog thoroughly for ticks. Since they attach themselves to your dog’s skin, you must look underneath the hair. This may be easier to do when they are wet.
When you find a tick, it’s crucial to remove the entire tick, including the jaws and head embedded in your dog’s skin. If the tick’s head is left, it can cause an infection. The best method for removing ticks is to grab their head with tweezers and pull slowly but firmly. Put the tick in alcohol to kill it once it’s been removed.
Lice can be the most difficult pest to spot since they are much smaller than ticks and less mobile than fleas. Lice tend to look like dirt, debris, or small brown rice on your dog’s coat, but they won’t wash out.
Excessive itching can be a sign that your dog is infested with fleas, ticks, or lice. Dry skin and allergies may also cause itching, so it doesn’t always indicate parasites, but it should cause you to take a closer look at your dog’s skin.
Historically, the best treatment and prevention for any of these parasites was a topical spot-on treatment that you squeezed between your dog’s shoulder blades once a month. Now there are several oral prescriptions that are proving effective. In either case, not all brands treat fleas, ticks, AND lice, so make sure the product covers the parasite you are concerned about.
Some products, such as flea shampoos, only kill adult parasites, so your dog may become reinfested as eggs hatch. Read the full package information for any treatment you use.
While parasites can be dangerous and disgusting, they are also treatable and preventable. When in doubt, talk to your vet.