Ticks and fleas on dogs – more than just a nuisance!

Itchy Dog

With the clocks going forward at the end of March there will be every incentive for longer dog walks after work as the evenings become lighter.  And with dormant wildlife getting more active as spring emerges then it’s perfect conditions for fleas to thrive as well!  So it’s time to pitch our wits against these “additional pets” once again.

But this time there is an extra bit of help in the battle.

Like it or not, whilst most owners are only too well aware of the need to maintain good de-flea management, there’s often a bit of a failure in getting it right.  That might be down to buying poor quality products or forgetting to apply the dropper/pill/solution as frequently as we should.  Most of the products need to be applied monthly, which, even with the best of intentions, can sometimes be missed.  And as fleas are adept at exploiting any chink in the “de-flea armour” they will often get through and start the unpleasant job of infesting our homes as a result.  A female flea starts laying eggs at a prodigious rate once they’ve taken a blood meal, laying up to 200 eggs per day.  These eggs fall off your dog and land on the carpet or wooden flooring.  More eggs are laid when a host is settled, which makes sense as this gives them a greater chance of re-infesting the nest, otherwise known as your home!

So how can we make things easier to get rid of these annoying pests?  Well, there’s now a palatable pill that’s been produced, called Bravecto, that only needs to given once every three months.  Only giving a medication quarterly is very handy, but remembering to do it can also be a problem, so there’s a sign-up scheme to get a text message so as to avoid missing the next tablet.  And importantly, Bravecto also acts as a tick repellant.

Ticks have become more of an issue in recent years for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, hedgehogs are making a comeback.  Personally I quite like these litter critters, but they do seem to come with a preponderance of ticks attached to them.  So any dog messing around with hedgehogs will inevitably be at risk of picking them up.  The claim with Bravecto is that it will act as a 100% tick repellant – they won’t even get attached to your dog’s skin!  Secondly, ticks are going to become a greater and greater issue as changing weather patterns mean that ticks will be spreading further northwards out of mainland Europe making even island Britain not so immune to their infestation.  Certainly the advice for anyone taking a dog abroad is that they should be protected against ticks prior to leaving home (even though it’s not a requirement of PETS passport!).  The reason for this is that the ticks that are found on the continent contain a host of very unpleasant blood-borne viruses and the like that are infinitely more dangerous than the Lyme’s disease that is the worry with UK ticks.

So although the threat from fleas and ticks is getting greater due to weather pattern changes there is at least something more convenient in our armoury for a dog to take in the form of a tasty chewable treat so that “taking the medicine” is less of a chore.