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What are fleas and ticks?
Fleas, ticks and other insects commonly make themselves at home in the furry, warm place that your dog's coat is. While you may have your dog on flea and tick preventatives like Frontline Plus or Comfortis, it is still crucial to know how to differentiate the parasites and what effect they can have on your dog.
Fleas and ticks are both unwelcome guests in your dog's fur, but there are some differences. Both will bite and suck your dog's blood, but fleas jump, while ticks crawl. Fleas commonly cause itching and hot spots, while ticks will stay in one place to feed and may cause illness if they transmit Lyme disease to your pet. If your dog is suffering from an allergic skin reaction from a flea bite, try giving it a bath with soothing pet shampoo like Relief Shampoo.
Even if your dog is on a tick preventative, some pests may cling on for a ride if your dog has been in tall grass or the woods. You should always give your dog's coat and skin a thorough look over whenever your come in from spending time outdoors to check for uninvited guests. The tiniest ticks can be hard to see, but they generally look like a small, dark and hard lump either right on top of or underneath your dog's skin. The best places to look for ticks are in places the pet cannot reach in grooming. In dogs, look on its head and ears, but also all over its body.
Tick are arthropods, like spiders, that can range in size from tiny specks to a large watermelon seed. They have eight legs and will attach to the skin, then bury their heads in the animal's skin. While attached to your pet's skin, a tick can swell to 10 times its normal size from the blood it consumes. Meanwhile it can transmit diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, St. Louis encephalitis, Lyme disease, tick paralysis and a number of other conditions. They can also transmit diseases from pets to humans and vice versa.
You should always check your dog after any outdoor trips, especially in the spring when ticks are back out and looking for a host. If you find a tick and remove it from your dog, make sure you keep it so you can get it tested for any diseases. This makes it easier for your vet to treat any condition the tick might have passed on to your pooch.