We want your puppies and dogs to be safe from fleas and ticks. Having a good understanding of these pests’ characteristics, their habits, the symptoms to look out for, and more can help you better protect your canine companions from these parasites. If you think your pet has fleas or ticks, contact your Top Rated Local® veterinarians in Kansas City to schedule a wellness exam in our office. You can also utilize our Virtual Vet Program to speak with our Client Care team and vets about flea and tick prevention.

What Are Fleas and Ticks?Fleas and ticks are a cause of concern for pet parents here in Kansas City and across the country. Both pests are parasites that attach themselves to pets (and people) to feed. Let’s look at each one individually to better understand their unique characteristics.

Fleas

Interesting facts about fleas:

  • External parasites that cause allergic dermatitis
  • Wingless, but can jump up to two-feet high
  • Feed on blood
  • More than 200 species of fleas that affect dogs
  • Life cycle: 13 days to 12 months
  • Can produce millions of offspring
  • Lay eggs in fur
  • Transmit diseases
  • Typically found on a dog’s abdomen, head, and/or tail
  • Thrive in warm, humid climates (65-80 degrees)
  • Can transmit to people

Ticks

Characteristics of ticks:

  • Blood-sucking parasites about the size of a pinhead
  • Bury their heads in the host’s skin and gorge on blood causing them to swell
  • Highly active in late spring and summer
  • Ticks transmit Lyme disease and other illnesses and infections through their bite
  • Prefer warmer climates
  • Live in tall grass, bushes, and wooded areas
  • Typically attach themselves to a dog’s head, neck, ears, feet, and legs (but can attach anywhere)

Symptoms of Fleas and Ticks

There are many different symptoms to keep an eye out for each type of parasite.

Symptoms of Fleas

Common symptoms of fleas on dogs include:

  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Excessive scratching, licking, and biting
  • Dry, flakey skin, scabs, and hot spots
  • Hair loss
  • Pale gums
  • Potential tapeworms

How to Identify Fleas

  • Notice droppings, also known as “flea dirt,” on your dog’s coat

    • Looks like small grains of sand that are dark in color
  • You spot tiny flea eggs that look like small white grains

Symptoms of Ticks

Some of the most common tick symptoms for dogs include:

  • Itchiness at the affected location (where the tick has latched on)
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Spot bloated ticks that are full from feeding on blood

Reactions to tick bites may include:

  • Internal symptoms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain
  • High fever
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Inactivity

Helpful Tips for Flea and Tick Season

Flea and tick prevention is your first line of defense against an attack. Additionally, taking precautions when enjoying the outdoors and vigilantly checking your dog for fleas and ticks can help with early detection. Here are some tips to consider for keeping your pet healthy and happy during flea and tick season.

Vet-Approved Flea and Tick Prevention

There is a wide range of flea and tick preventatives available at your veterinary center, online, and at local pet stores. Talk to your vet about potential options for your pet that will take into consideration their age, breed, level of activity, and health history.

From shampoos, topical treatments, sprays, collars, essential oils, as well as chewables like Frontline® Plus, NexGard®, and others, there are many effective options available.

Essential Oils

There are many essential oils that are safe to apply to your dog’s skin and coat to naturally fend off insects and protect against pests like fleas and ticks. There are premade holistic sprays available for purchase, or you can make your own.

Tip: Combine 15-20 drops of peppermint oil (helps get rid of fleas) and cedarwood oil (natural pest repellent) with water in a spray bottle that you can apply to your pet’s coat before heading outdoors to protect against bugs.

Regular Inspections

After spending time outdoors — especially in wooded and grassy areas — it is of the utmost importance to inspect your pet (and yourself) for ticks. Check their feet (including between the toes), their legs, their tail, their anus, inside and outside of their ears, around the lips and eyes, and on their abdomen.

Fleas are more noticeable, so if you see them scratching and itching excessively, check their fur and skin for signs of fleas.

Regular Groomings

Routine groomings are a great way to not only maintain your pets overall wellness, but your groomer can also check them for fleas and ticks. Monthly grooming appointment are pretty standard for dogs that don’t have a lot of hair and fur, but if your dog is a long-haired breed, they may require more frequent grooming visits.

Be Mindful of Where You Adventure

Ticks love tall grass, shrubs, and forested areas. If you plan to take your pup on an outdoor adventure, be mindful of where you go. Stay on trails, especially in tall grassy areas.

Treat Multiple Dogs at the Same Time

If you have multiple dogs and one of them gets fleas or ticks, it’s essential to treat both pets to prevent spread and cross infection. Keep in mind that cats and other small mammals are also susceptible to fleas and ticks, and may also need to be treated, as well. In this case, it is of the utmost importance to find the appropriate treatment for cats and other small mammals. Do not use treatments intended for dogs on cats.

Maintain Your Yard

Ticks can take up residence in your front or backyard, so it’s important to mow regularly, remove weeds, and seal your yard to keep flea- and tick-carrying rodents away. Doing so can help ensure your yard remains free of ticks.

Begin Treatment Immediately

If your dog has fleas, you will want to begin treating them right away. Talk to your friendly veterinarian to ensure you get the most effective flea treatment for your dog to eliminate the problem quickly and efficiently.   

Contact Your Fear Free Veterinarian

If you want to learn more about flea and tick prevention, or you want to schedule your furry friend for a wellness exam with our compassionate Fear Free veterinarians in Kansas City, reach out to Eagle Animal Hospital and Pet Resort. You can also utilize our Virtual Vet Services to meet with your vet and discuss flea and tick prevention or refill a prescription remotely. Follow the link to learn how to enroll. Contact us today and discover why we’re recognized as a Top Rated Local® animal hospital in Kansas City.