Fleas and Ticks

Fleas on Vancouver Island is what mosquitos are to Manitoba! Summer through fall can be a time for fleas to flourish in our environment. Unlike other areas of Canada, our mild coastal weather makes fleas a problem all year round with the worst season stretching from April to November. Did you know that one flea can lay up to 200 eggs on your dog, which can stay in your carpets and on fabrics for up to 12 months before they hatch? You might also be surprised to learn that fleas carry tapeworm, which can infect your pet and many skin-related conditions such as flea allergy dermatitis are also associated with flea infestations. Another pest we tend to see starting in the spring through to the end of fall is ticks. Although not as common as in some parts of the province, ticks can be a real problem for pet owners in the Comox Valley and tick awareness is growing among pet owners.

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How can you tell if your dog has fleas or ticks?

Fleas can sometimes be tricky to spot, not all dogs react the same to fleas. Some dogs show no signs at all while others react to a single bite. Fleas are fast and don’t want to be found. If your dog has fleas you may notice several small black flecks throughout their fur known as the “flea dirt” which is, in fact, the flea’s feces. A flea combs works well at detecting fleas and can be purchased at your veterinarian’s office or at most pet stores. A great trick used to detect fleas is to spray any debris removed by the flea comb with water over a white sheet or paper towel. If the debris (or black flecks) turn red, you know your pets have fleas as these flecks are in fact the flea’s feces which is your dog’s digested blood. Ticks are most commonly found around the face, head, ears and neck of your pet but can also be found just about anywhere on the body. During tick season (early spring through to fall), it is recommended to thoroughly comb over your dog after hiking in the woods or walking through tall grasses. Ticks are often mistaken for small skin tags or lumps on your dog and are easier to find after they’ve attached and their bodies have swelled due to ingesting your dog’s blood.

How to prevent fleas & ticks in dogs?

There are several effective preventative medications on the market to help prevent or treat external parasite infestations, such as fleas and ticks. The best source for flea/tick prevention is your veterinarian. Depending on your needs and your dog’s lifestyle, your veterinarian may recommend either an oral form of prevention, such as Bravecto. It is administered every 3 months or a topical form of prevention such as Revolution which is applied monthly. Some dogs require prevention 12 months of the year, while others only need it when they travel or during the peak flea and tick seasons.

What are the treatment options for ticks in dogs?

At Van Isle Veterinary Hospital, we carry a few different options for the treatment and prevention of ticks in dogs. There is an oral chewable tablet called Bravecto which is administered once every 3 months, as well as a couple different topicals which are applied monthly such as Revolution or Advantage Multi. We recommend that you talk to your veterinarian to find out which form is right for your dog.

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