Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that feed on a dog’s blood to survive. We share our homes, our furniture sometimes even our beds with our furry friends. Our pets can share some of their parasites with us. Like many things young children are considered most at risk but the elderly or any one with a compromised immune system or pets visiting or working in places with children or immune compromised people should be aware of the zoonotic risk of parasites. Parasite eggs are microscopic and not visible to the human eye, and many can be quite hardy and can survive in the environment for some time before infecting our pets or us. We at Tantallon Veterinary Hospital will help you decide which parasite control program is most appropriate for your pet based on your dogs lifestyle.

What are the most common types of parasites?

External Parasites
The most commonly encountered external parasites are Fleas and Ticks. All dogs that go outside are at risk of getting fleas and ticks and we can see an increase in the spring and fall. Fleas can make your dog itchy and uncomfortable but can also cause flea allergy dermatitis, anemia and can transmit tapeworm. Ticks are blood feeders that have received a lot of attention on the news lately with the spread of Lyme disease and other organisms spread by these biting parasites. We used to think ticks were a seasonal problem but with warmer temperatures and continued spread in the range of this organism we can see ticks all year long. Ticks feed when the air temperature is 4° C or warmer. Even if there is snow on the ground they can climb onto a blade of grass and wait for an animal to walk by. In the early spring there can be a bloom of the juvenile stages sometimes referred to as seed ticks, which are hardly bigger, then the end of a pencil. These are so small that it would be difficult to see them through even the short fur of our pets.

Intestinal Parasites
Intestinal worms in dogs come in 4 forms: Roundworm, Hookworm, Whipworm,and Tapeworm.

They are contracted by one of the following modes of transmission:

  • The passage from a pregnant or nursing mother to her puppies
  • The ingestion of feces
  • The ingestion of raw meat or animal remains in the environment
  • The ingestion of infected soil
  • The ingestion of unwashed/uncooked infected vegetables
  • Intestinal worms can cause no symptoms or can cause weight loss, malnourishment, intestinal discomfort, intestinal blockage, bloody diarrhea, and/ or anemia.

Dogs are also at risk for contracting other internal parasites such as Coccidia, Giardia, Heartworm, Lungworm and Raccoon Roundworm. There are a number of new treatments options available to treat and prevent these parasites through topical, or oral administration. These are prescriptions that are designed to be safer and more effective than ‘over the counter’ type products.

How can I tell if my dog has fleas or ticks?

If you suspect your dog has fleas, you can run a flea comb through their fur. If fleas are observed, or flea ‘dirt,’ your dog probably has fleas.

How can I prevent fleas and ticks on my dog?

The best protection is giving regular flea and tick preventatives prescribed by your veterinarian.

What are the treatment options for dogs who have ticks?

Please consult with your veterinarian at your annual visit to determine what product is safest for your pet.


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