Don’t be fooled pet parents: flea and tick “season” is a year-round occurrence. Some dogs are noticeably bothered by these little buggers, while others barely flinch, so it’s important to stay on the defensive.
In addition to prevention methods, such as topical medicines and flea and tick collars, a daily hands-on inspection of your pooch is a simple (and free!) way to spot a possible infestation. You don’t need a PhD to detect fleas and ticks, just a gentle and observant touch.
During cuddle or play time, perform this quick examination:
~ Rub your hands over your furry nugget’s entire body – like a mini massage! If you feel a slight bump under the hair, it may be a tick. Use your fingers to part the dog’s fur to get a closer look. A tick can be tan, brown or black, and looks like a sunflower seed with legs. For comparison, a skin tag or wart is skin-colored.
~ Take a peek inside both ears. If you notice your dog constantly shaking his head, a tick may be burrowed in the ear canal. Tip: Grab your cell phone or flash light for better viewing.
~ Always check your pup's paws for ticks between the pads!
~ A good belly rub is a prime opportunity to hunt for fleas. If you have a furry dog with a dark colored coat, use a flea comb. If you don’t spot a flea, you are not necessarily out of the danger zone. Flea droppings, which look like a speck of ground pepper, are a sure sign of a problem. Tip: Tap any black specks onto a wet paper towel. If they are flea droppings, they will turn a reddish-brown color.
If there is a lot of scratching going on and your body examination came up empty, try setting a “light trap.” Before bed, place a small dish of soapy water on the floor near a nightlight. Fleas will jump toward the light, fall into the bowl, and your suspicions of having fleas in your home will be confirmed.
Daily vacuuming is key to keeping your home environment bug free. Adult fleas live primarily on a host, but the eggs, larvae, and pupae can hang out in your carpet, pet bedding, and furniture. The mechanical vibrations from your vacuum cleaner stimulate the flea pupae so they emerge quicker, which helps shorten the flea life cycle.
If your DIY efforts are not working, swing by the Soggy Doggy Shop for some topical options: there's a flea and tick upgrade for self-washes, and a flea and tick treatment for our grooming clients.