Fleas and ticks can be a nightmare for dogs, but they can also be a nightmare for humans. The problem with fleas and ticks is that they not only affect your dog but can also cause medical problems for you as well.

Fleas and ticks are parasitic creatures that live off blood, and can affect both pets and humans. They can cause health problems in the animals they attack, as well as in people who get bitten. They can also be a source of allergic reactions.  Ticks are only found on  mammals.  Ticks can stay in one location for up to one year.  Ticks can transmit bacteria, viruses and parasites to humans.  Fleas can jump from your dog to you and cause bites on humans.  Fleas can also get into your rugs, bedding (particularly if your pets sleep with you) and upholstery.

Flea and tick season begins around the first of April and lasts until the end of September.  Ticks become active as soon as temperatures are above freezing.  Fleas love warm humid climates.

Fleas and ticks live everywhere.  Ticks like tall grass, piles of leaves, wooded areas and overgrown gardens.  Ticks can live on rodents or deer before coming into contact with your pet.  A simple walk in your neighborhood or spending time outside gives ticks access to your dog.  Fleas can be picked up at the dog park, or groomer.

It’s important to know how to spot fleas and ticks. Fleas can cause flea allergy dermatitis, and ticks can transmit serious diseases to your pet.


Flea Symptoms

Fleas are generally found on the stomach, around the head and at the base of the tail.  Look for “flea dirt” small dark grains of sand.  Most dogs start seriously itching when they get fleas.  They make lick or bite at their skin.  They can have hair loss and scabs on their skin.  Flea eggs are tiny and white.

Flea Treatment

There are flea shampoos for your pet or you can take your dog to the groomer for a flea dip.  There are multiple topical, oral medications, collars, sprays, and shampoo treatments for your dog.  Your vet can recommend a good course of treatment based on where you live.  Many vets will want your dog to take a oral monthly treatment.  There are side effects that these can cause.  You need to weigh the risks and rewards of all medication.

If you end up with the whole house being infested with fleas you may want to consider a fogger.  You and your pet will need to leave while you fog the house but this can kill all active fleas and help you get your home back under control.

Flea Prevention

Keep your yard or outside area cleaned and manicured.  Fleas like to live in dark, moist, shady areas.  Use a flea comb to groom your pet and wash your pets bedding regularly.


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Tick Symptoms

There are not the obvious discomfort symptoms that fleas cause.  Your eyes will let you know if your dog has a tick.  Ticks prefer a dogs face, ears, legs, toes, armpits or groin.  Inspect your pet after outdoor play by looking through their fur for a small black dot the size of a pencil tip.  Often times ticks are not noticed until they swell up with blood.

Tick Treatment

Prompt removal of a tick is important.  You are going to have to remove the tick with tweezers.  It is best not to touch the tick with your bare hands.  So put on some rubber gloves.  Using fine tipped tweezers grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.  Pull off the tick straight and steady.  Put the tick in a screw top jar that has rubbing alcohol.  (You can save the jar in case your vet needs to test).  Wash the bite area on your pet and wash your hands.  Sterilize your tweezers in alcohol.  Monitor the bite area for infection.

Tick Prevention

Keep your yard well tended, grass mown and leaves picked up.  Make your outdoor area unfriendly to rodents and deer.  Talk to your vet about the best tick prevention treatments for your area.


Eliminating fleas and ticks from your home is not easy.  Prevention can keep you from the headaches and mess of fixing a flea infestation. There are some possible harmful side effects to preventive measures. Your veterinarian can advise you on the type of preventive product that is best for your dog’s temperament and lifestyle. Let your vet know how often your pet swims or is bathed.  Frequent swimming or bathing can make topical treatments for fleas and ticks ineffective.

Do not use the same flea and tick products you use for your dog on your cat!