As a well-intentioned dog owner, you should know that fleas and ticks might be keeping some secrets from you. While ignorance may be bliss, knowing the ugly truth about fleas and ticks and the problems they can cause may help you protect your dog and cat.
Adult fleas (Ctenocephalides spp.)
1. Fleas can be more than just annoying to your dog.
Fleas can cause a number of health problems for dogs. For example, a flea’s bite can cause skin allergies including flea allergy dermatitis, which is an exaggerated response to flea saliva that results in severe itching. Another problem fleas can cause is tapeworms. If your dog swallows an infected flea, that flea can transmit tapeworms to your dog.
2. Fleas can survive indoors for a long time.
Fleas usually complete their life cycle from egg to adult in three to four weeks. However, if temperature and humidity are not ideal, fleas can delay this cycle for six months or even longer, waiting for the right conditions to emerge. No stage of flea can survive more than a few days at temperatures close to freezing, but calculating exactly when they will emerge or where they may be hiding in a survivable microclimate is virtually impossible.
Therefore, year-round flea prevention is an important consideration regardless of where you live. It’s especially important if you live in a warmer region of the country.
American dog tick, scientifically named Dermacentor variabilis
3. Ticks can lead to disease.
Besides occasionally causing localized skin reactions, ticks can transmit organisms to your dog that can cause diseases such as ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
4. Ticks can be active in colder months.
Ticks can survive and reproduce in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.1 Even when temperatures are cold, ticks may emerge from warmer microenvironments, such as the space close to an outdoor kennel or dog house.
So what’s a dog owner like you to do now that you know fleas’ and ticks’ deepest secrets? Help protect your dog from pests by using a flea and tick preventive.