Fleas and ticks can be very annoying, especially if you find them on your skin. Ticks are also carriers of diseases that may harm you or your dog.
I know this first hand because my poor pup was bitten by a tick once; it caused him so much discomfort and it took him weeks to get back to his old self.
Taking steps to prevent your dog from getting fleas & ticks is important because when prevention is successful, you don’t have to worry about treatment.
Before learning how to prevent fleas and ticks on a dog, you should first understand the risk factors for tick bites.
Here are the common causes and risks of fleas and ticks that should be known to everyone:
1. Weak Immune System
When your dog’s immune system is weak, it will have a hard time fighting off diseases — diseases that could be brought by a parasite such as a flea or a tick.
The science behind it is that a weak immune system will have a hard time identifying and killing pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) introduced by these parasites. This is the reason why it is important to maintain your dog’s health by feeding them healthy food and making sure they get proper exercise.
Ticks usually feed on puppies and senior dogs due to their inability to move around effectively or groom themselves properly.
Ticks and fleas are usually found under the legs, ears, and around the neck. To help prevent them on a dog that is over 12 months old, you should groom it regularly.
3. Climate & Weather
The weather has a big impact on ticks and fleas because they can only live outside the body for a week or so maximum.
They will either die of dehydration or be killed by dust and other particles in the air. When it is cold outside, their survival rate will decrease.
As with humans, vaccination can protect dogs from diseases such as Lyme disease that can be contracted from tick or flea bites. Always consult your vet when seeking vaccinations for your dog.
At the end of the day, if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s at a higher risk of both tick and flea bites. Fleas prefer cool, shady, damp places outdoors, while ticks prefer to live in grassy and wooded areas.
Having said that, fleas can certainly survive indoors if they are brought inside. Many ticks cannot survive indoors, but some species such as the Brown Dog tick can survive and breed indoors.
Ticks would rather feed on animals that spend most of their time inside the house. They normally search for a good feeding ground on your dog’s fur and settle until they are ready to bite.
A healthy diet will ensure that your dog is able to maintain its weight, remain active, and maintain a strong immune system. The healthier your dog is, the less likely it will pick up parasites from the environment.
10 Ways To Prevent Fleas & Ticks On A Dog
1. Keep your dog clean.
Dogs that are clean usually don’t have a problem with parasites. Fleas and ticks won’t want to stay on an animal that is constantly grooming itself.
To avoid parasites, ensure that your dog’s fur is free of mats or tangles because these can harbor fleas. If you find your dog scratching or biting its fur, only use appropriate treatments like topical medications and shampoos.
Ears are one of the preferred spots where ticks and fleas like to settle. See our guide on cleaning a dog’s ears here.
2. Check your dog’s environment.
It is important to know where your dog spends most of its time because it could be a hotbed for fleas or ticks.
Indoors, fleas can be found in places such as your carpet, furniture, and even bed sheets. Outdoors, ticks can be found in tall grass or wooded areas.
Also check your dog’s collar often to see if there are any stuck ticks because this can bring problems into the house.
3. Use flea and tick sprays.
These sprays are available in most pet stores as well as online. They usually contain pyrethrins which is an insecticide that kills off parasites.
Usually, a single treatment will last up to several weeks depending on the product you have used. When using any type of chemical treatment, check the label and adhere to the instructions.
4. Use flea and tick shampoos.
Flea and tick shampoos are preferred by most dog owners because they offer instant relief from parasites.
They can be used by themselves, or they can be used as a follow-up to a topical treatment that kills the remaining adult ticks and eggs that may have been missed.
5. Use flea and tick collars.
These types of collars are pretty popular these days because they contain ingredients such as fipronil which is an insecticide that repels and kills ticks.
These collars are great for long-haired dogs because you don’t have to worry about smelly shampoos or sprays. You can also take these off when you bathe your dog so there is no need to reapply products after.
6. Avoid toxic treatments.
To prevent fleas and ticks on a dog, use treatments that are safe. This means that you should avoid the risky ones that can cause allergies or even poison your pet.
The best way to find out if a flea & tick treatment is safe for your dog is by reading reviews from other pet owners who have used it or consulting with your vet.
7. Carefully examine new pets being introduced to the home.
Ticks, particularly those that carry Lyme disease, often migrate from other outdoor pets.
If you have recently adopted an animal, especially a stray or one with unknown origins, it’s best to thoroughly examine them outside for fleas or ticks first. You should trust that any new animal you bring into the home is free of parasites.
8. Use natural repellants.
Before using natural repellants for fleas or ticks on dogs — especially something you’ve never used before — you should consult with your vet.
There are several herbs and oils that can be safely used to prevent parasites. One of the best ones is apple cider vinegar, which can be added to your dog’s water bowl or mixed with water and used as a spray.
Remember that these things may not work as fast as commercial products so it may take time before you see the results.
9. Monitor your dog’s diet.
Some dogs are more susceptible to parasites. This could be because of behaviour, allergies, lack of nutrition, or age.
To avoid recurring problems with fleas and ticks, ensure that your dog is eating the right food. Before feeding it anything new for the first time, consult with your vet first about it.
10. Exercise your dog.
Active dogs tend to shed off fleas and ticks faster than those who remain sedentary.
If you love hiking or camping, try to do with with your dog when you can. This is also a great way for both of you to bond together.
At the same time, the more your dog spends time in the great outdoors, the greater the chance it will pick up fleas or ticks. So, keep your dog away from areas where these parasites thrive such as tall grass.
In general, dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases, especially those that are already sick or weak. Diseases that a dog can contract include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, tapeworms, flea allergy dermatitis, and Bartonellosis.
To prevent fleas and ticks on your dog, inspect its skin regularly, keep it clean, keep it away from areas where these parasites thrive, and use repellants that are safe and effective. You should avoid chemical treatments, but you may have to resort to them if the infestation is bad enough.
Remember to consult with your vet before employing any treatments, especially if you’re not familiar with it. If you think that your dog is suffering from parasites, see a vet right away to prevent bigger problems later on because these can endanger your dog’s well-being.
Thanks for reading. Does your dog have fleas or ticks? Feel free to share your story in the comments below.