9 min read
Ticks and fleas are the creepy crawly monsters that feature in most pet parents’ nightmares. The mere sight of one of these bloodthirsty insects latched onto your pet’s skin is enough to cause a shiver to run down your spine. But what are they really and why should we as pet parents care about them?
Here’s all you need to know about tackling ticks and fleas in India
Ticks and fleas are two different types of parasites that commonly infect both cats and dogs. They both bite and suck blood from their hosts and transmit diseases. The good news? There are ways to get rid of these tick insect infestations and easy preventative measures that can reduce the chance of a re-infestation!
Here’s a little bit more about them both:
Ticks look a lot like very small spiders. Once they latch onto your pet they feed off your pet’s blood.
There are hundreds of different species of ticks that can transmit diseases like Lyme disease and tick-borne relapsing fever to your dog. There are also some specific ticks that can pass on tick borne encephalitis.
They are blackish-brown specks, smaller than ticks and they jump very quickly and high. To test if your dog has fleas, place the flea dirt on a wet kitchen tissue and you’ll see it leaving red stains.
Fleas are another type of parasite that also freely roam in a number of different variants. Although they are not commonly as lethal as ticks, they can pass on tapeworm and typhus.
HUFT Tip: Both parasites lay multiple eggs at a time, so tick or flea infestations can get out of hand very quickly. Whichever of these your dog has, it is extremely important you act immediately to get rid of them.
During the initial stages of the infestation, it might not be so obvious to spot these pests. These are the signs you should be on the lookout for through the year:
If you spot any of the above signs, you should immediately check your dog thoroughly for ticks or other parasites. While fleas jump from one spot to another, ticks tend to stick to one place. Here are few of their favourite spots you’ll find them hiding in:
HUFT Tip: Use your sense of touch as much as you use your sight. Sometimes you can feel a small tick or flea even if it’s hidden between long fur and you can’t see it. You can turn this into a good cuddle session, showering them with belly rubs and scratchies along the way.
If it’s your pet’s first time getting the ticks or fleas, here are some tips that might be helpful:
Ticks are much easier to catch than fleas. Ticks move slower and are larger, often you find them with their mouth embedded into the skin. Here’s how to get rid of ticks on dogs:
Fleas are very fast and catching them by hand is quite tricky. You will have to do this as they run through your pet’s fur. Fleas can jump high and far as well so be prepared for this. Pet parents generally find it easier to kill fleas by applying an anti-tick and flea massage oil and then giving their dog an anti tick and flea shampoo bath with warm water. This may have to be repeated every 10 days until the infestation is gone.
What you’ll need:
Step 1: Brush your pet
Give your pet a thorough anti-tick and flea groom. As a general approach, you can begin by brushing them well with a tooth comb or a flea comb. You can locate and pick out many of the parasites this way. It will also give you an idea as to how bad the infestation is.
HUFT Tip: Once you pick out a tick or a flea, remember to kill it by dropping it in a container with a soapy solution. This is because they have a habit of coming back to your pet. In the case of fleas, squish them with your nail before dropping them in soapy water.
Step 2: Pre-bath massage
Before your pet’s bath, you could use natural pet-safe oil to massage onto your pet’s coat. You can also use our anti tick and flea powder which pierces and dehydrates ticks, fleas and their eggs. You can use this as a preventive measure (explained below) as well as for a day or two before your pet’s bath.
Step 3: Baths
Giving your pet a bath with an anti-tick and flea shampoo will give them relief from the itchiness of tick bites. It should also get rid of most of the ticks on your pet. You will likely have to repeat baths once in 10 days or 14 days until all the ticks are gone.
When it comes to grooming, one might think that no fur means no ticks and fleas but that’s completely false. Remember that dogs should be trimmed and not completely shaved since shaving can cause allergies and infections. It’s best to take some professional help when it comes to grooming. You can also give your pet some “me” time at your nearest HUFT spa.
Step 4: Clean your home thoroughly
A one-time act of a bath is generally insufficient to get rid of the infestation. To eradicate ticks completely, you need to take on a 360° approach.
Have your carpets washed or vacuumed. Get your pet’s sleeping areas cleaned up as well. You can even dust some anti tick and flea powder on your dog's beds, mats, blankets and other bedding items. If you don’t tackle the ticks in the surrounding area, they will climb back onto your pet after the effect of the anti-tick and flea shampoo wears off.
HUFT Tip: Ticks, fleas and their eggs could also hide in the cracks of wooden furniture, door posts, between tiles, etc. Spraying these with a natural solution of Neem oil and ACV can help. Remember to keep up the thorough cleaning of the environment. This serves to eradicate the current infestation and discourage future ones.
Step 5: Preventive plan
Lyme disease in dogs is a serious illness and so, many pet parents put in place a long-term preventive plan to keep these pests at bay. This reduces the risk of pets getting infected with tick or flea-borne diseases. This involves both making your pet and your environment unpleasant for ticks to infest.
Sprinkling diatomaceous earth around your pet’s bedding or in the garden has worked well in the past for pests like ticks. Solutions like Apple Cider Vinegar and neem oil have natural insect-repelling properties which have helped to keep these parasites at bay. Regular cleaning of your carpets, curtains and upholstery is also recommended.
Do a tick check every day when you brush your pet. Using a Bug Repelling Massage Oil before baths is a great way to encourage a lush coat as well as keep pests at bay. This oil contains eucalyptus and lemongrass to repel parasites. The HUFT Paw Balm contains tick-repellent oils like neem, so parasites are discouraged from latching onto your pet’s paws. Our flea and tick spray for dogs can be used on the legs and body before walks and outings to deter pests.
Tick infestations are less likely to happen with pets who are healthy and eating a nutritious diet. It only takes a single tick to transmit dangerous diseases like tick fever and a strong immune system is important to fight these. Ensure your dog has regular meals and stays hydrated. If you wish to give your pet some dog supplements, remember to consult your vet or certified canine nutritionist before doing so.
HUFT Tip: Pills, Spot On treatments and other chemical anti-tick and flea measures do exist. But they need to be taken on advice of a trusted vet only. Chemical anti-tick and flea measures tend to take a toll on your pet’s liver. Discuss with your vet for natural alternatives.
Ques 1. What is ‘tick season’?
Tick eggs generally hatch during the warmer months, so spring and summer are often dubbed ‘tick season.’ However, ticks are not completely absent during other months, so you should always be on the look-out for them. Learning to spot ticks at different stages of their life cycle helps you spot an infestation early and could also give you a clue as to how long the infestation has been around. Ticks go through four different life stages–Egg, Larva, Nymph and Adult.
Ques 2. Where do dogs pick up ticks?
Heavily wooded areas and places with tall grass are commonly where dogs pick up ticks. This could be your garden, your neighbour's garden or the park. Your pet could have also picked them up from another dog. They could also jump onto your pet in places where dogs frequent like dog parks or the vet clinic.
Remember: Ticks can latch onto any passing host, even you when you’re on a hike, and then transfer to your pet.
Ques 3. Can ticks live on humans?
Ticks on humans is not a far-fetched idea although they do not infest us in quite the same way. Just as ticks may jump onto your pet’s coat as they brush past on thick vegetation, the ticks could climb onto your clothing as well. However, since we do not have fur, they’re likely to be discovered fairly quickly. If there is a bad infestation in your home, you are just as exposed to the ticks as your dogs. A quick and thorough clean-up is highly recommended as humans can also contract Lyme disease from ticks.
Ques 4. What are the Lyme Disease and tick fever symptoms in dogs?
The most common Lyme symptoms in dogs are fever, lethargy, a disinterest in food or a loss of appetite and swollen joints. If you suspect tick fever, we suggest a vet visit right away as the earlier the treatment begins, the better.
Ques 5. What are some of the different tick species?
There are over 800 different species of ticks in the world but there are some who do not transmit diseases to us or to our pets. Some are present only in certain parts of some countries. Some are likely to attack humans, like the Lone Star Tick or the tick with white spots that may bite humans and leave a circular rash. There are different types of ticks and different types may have different colours and markings. But they all have the same general body shape. A tick bug has a spidery appearance and may appear red if it’s latched on and feeding. White ticks are generally ticks that are engorged with blood and so change their appearance from brown-black to a silvery white or yellow. The Black tick and black-legged tick species are also common.
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