How do I know if my dog ​​has fleas or ticks? Prevention and treatment

The fleas and ticks They are external parasites they feed on blood, especially that of animals. They are very common bugs throughout Europe that, in addition, can be carriers of different diseases.

When the flea or tick parasitizes an animal, it adheres to his skin through his mouthparts and vampirizes him: sucks blood.

“The main difference between tick and flea is that the tick can be seen”, comments the Ana Rios Dr.head of the dermatology service of the Puchol Veterinary Hospital. “Fleas are more difficult to see and are identified because the animal has a itching in the lower back or stoolwhich are little black dots that appear on the dog’s fur,” he adds.

If a tick or flea parasitizes a dog and the dog has a disease, when sucks your blood it also sucks up the virus or bacteria that causes the illness, so it can be transmit to the next animal or human what a parasite

Fleas and ticks transmit various serious diseases.

The tick, for example, can transmit the babesiosis, monocytic ehrlichiosis and hepatozoonosis.

the tick Dermacentor reticulatuswhich was not found in the European Union in the past but is now found in areas of Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdomcan transmit to dogs babesiaa disease that affects the red blood cells and that can be deadly. Sometimes infection with Babesia parasites can be asymptomatic or cause mild illness nonspecific that the patient is often not even aware of. In those milder cases, this disease can cause low-grade fever and some anemiabut in the most severe cases it can cause injuries to the heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, and digestive tract and even death.

The ehrlichia infects the white blood cells, platelets and the cells that make up the wall of the blood vessels of the infected animal. In addition, by spreading through the blood, it can affect the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, kidneys, and even the meninges. The symptoms that usually manifest are fever, apathy, anorexia, weight loss, respiratory distress, nosebleeds, eye problems and nervous and lameness, among others. But it can also generate paralysissomething that the common dog owners are completely unaware of.

In this case, the dog is infected by ingest the tick, not from the bite itself, and this occurs when your pet chews the skin to remove them. Within the dog’s intestine the infection is released and distributed through the blood to areas such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver, muscles, spleen… This disease causes hyperthermia -abnormally high temperature-, fever, appetite problems, apathy and difficulty moving due to muscle pain. can also suffer hemorrhagic diarrhea, by the release of the parasite and its penetration into the wall of the intestine to reach the blood vessels. As the body begins to produce many antibodies that are not capable of eliminating the parasite, they can cause glomerulonephritis picturesinflammation of the small filters of the kidneys- or vasculitis -inflammation of the blood vessels-, among other disorders.

The fleas

For its part, the flea can transmit dipylidium, allergic sting dermatitis, bartonellosis, or hemoplasmosis.

The Dipylidium caninum is a kind of earthworm, a tapeworm. Dogs can be infected with roundworms without showing symptoms. Most worms are rarely visible in the droppings and their eggs cannot be seen with the naked eye. Symptoms of intestinal parasites include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, dry and limp coat, cough, an abnormal weight loss or a general discomfort, which manifests itself externally in a despondency of the dog. To detect the tapeworm it is necessary to do a stool analysis. And to deworm the animal, you must apply a specific treatment against the parasite in question, in the form of pills, syrup, oral paste or pipettes.

Allergic sting dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis due to flea bites is a pathology of the skin caused by antigens in the saliva that the flea deposits when feeding. produces a localized irritation, rash, or swelling if the dog is allergic to fleas. The allergic response is often lifelong, requiring only one flea bite every 10-14 days. To treat the reaction, shampoos or liquid medications are enough to mitigate its effects.

Although it is a more common disease in cats -which, in addition, can transmit it to humans by scratches– also affects dogs and causes bleeding from warts, fever, malaise, joint pain, and endocarditis -inflammation of the inner membrane of the heart-. To treat this disease, antibiotics have to be given over a long period of time four to six weeks– to prevent the bacteria from reproducing in any way.

hemoplasmosis or mycoplasmosis

The symptoms of hemoplasmosis are varied and include anemia, anorexia, lethargy, weight loss, fever, and depression. Being common symptoms in several flea infestations, it is advisable to do a blood test and apply the appropriate treatment for this type of fleas, although it may never be completely eliminated, even if the dog recovers clinically.

To know if your dog has fleas or ticks, the fundamental thing is observe him. Obviously, if you see that he scratches continuously, it is quite likely that he has fleas and/or ticks. But it is also appropriate examine his fur after every ride and comb him.


If you spot a tick, it should be extract as soon as possible but very carefully and with specialized materials, such as tick remover tweezerssince if you squeeze it, you can make your pet empty its salivary glands -which is where it infects the animal- and the remedy will be worse than the disease.

If your dog has ticks or fleas, you should test and treat any other animals you have. You should also treat the entire environment to kill the young stages of the fleas. Pay attention to ground crackscarpet underlays and other dark areas where larvae take refuge. Also vacuum the floor and the car thoroughly.. Wash cushions and blankets 60 degrees minimum. In addition, to reinforce cleaning you can treat the environment with antiparasitic sprays or nebulizers.

natural treatment

If what you see are fleas, the treatment consists of hot soapy water or even vinegar.

There are some flea remedies, such as vinegar sprays or herbal concoctions, which can help with a mild infestation. However, if there is a lot of contagion, it is preferable to resort to the wide range of authorized medications.

most effective

However, the prevention it is the most effective” against fleas and/or ticks, points out Dr. Ríos. “None prevents bites or destroys insects instantly, but there are quite effective long-term treatments on the market,” she adds.

Related news

Necklaces, for example, which have “an effectiveness that lasts between six and eight months” or pipettes, “with a monthly effectiveness”, usually work quite well to prevent the annoying bloodsuckers. There are also pills to protect the dog before the infestation or immediately after it, when it is not yet too widespread.

Help from a professional

Finally, you should go to the vet if the dog shows a general deterioration in its state of health, fever, decreased appetite, is unusually tired, unsteady when moving, or shows joint or muscle pain. Don’t forget to mention that the dog has suffered tick or flea bites.


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