From flea and tick control tips to tick removal myths – we take a look at how to combat these sneaky little critters this summer

The low-down on fleas

Ironically, the flea most common on dogs is the cat flea! Your dog can be allergic to flea saliva, resulting in an itchy dermatitis. Even one or two fleas can be enough to do the damage. Most flea reactions in dogs are seen on the lower back area, above the tail.

Controlling fleas and ticks on your dog

Effective flea treatment and control involves treating both the environment and the dog.
Flea preparations come in all forms – aerosols, powders, pump action sprays, insecticidal collars, spot-ons, oral tablets or shampoos. Some of the flea applications are also effective against ticks (including the collars). Get advice from your vet on which one to use on your dog to control both fleas and ticks at the same time. Keep the house clean; vacuum, wash pets bedding etc. and disinfect floors and pet’s living space to control the flea population.

For a more natural approach, rub a freshly squeezed orange or lemon into the fur – fleas are repelled by citrus. Or a dip in plain old water can get rid of fleas – they can’t cling on; they fall off and drown.  Using a gentle shampoo, or a little bit of washing-up liquid (one with a citrus base), along with thorough and regular brushing, will go a long way toward ridding your pet’s body of fleas.
The following site gives some good tips on natural remedies:
http://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_multi_flea_control

The low-down on ticks

Ticks can be a very dangerous parasite, carrying a number of diseases (which usually exhibit as fatigue, weakness, lameness and joint swelling), including lyme disease.
They will usually attach themselves in areas where dogs have little or no hair such as around the ears, between the toes, the inside of the legs and in skin folds. They bury their mouth in the skin and begin feeding from the blood (lovely!).

Try to avoid areas with tall grass and woods as ticks love these places. If you are walking your dog in ‘high-risk’ areas examine them daily to make sure they haven’t any tick bites. The following site gives good information on how to identify and remove a tick:
http://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/how-to-identify-and-remove-ticks-from-your-pet.html

Myths about tick removal

Vaseline, burning them off, freezing them off, nail varnish — these are just a few of the common folk remedies that pop up when you google ‘tick removal’. And none of them will work. The problem is once the head is embedded into the body the tick won’t just back out, no matter what you do. So all the tricks to drown them, suffocate them, burn them etc. just won’t do the job.

See http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-to-properly-remove-ticks-common-myths-and-foolproof-methods and http://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/how-to-identify-and-remove-ticks-from-your-pet.html for more on myths.

How to remove a tick

The most important thing is to make sure you remove the whole tick including the embedded head – it’s a case of grabbing, twisting and lifting (but in a delicate kind of way!). There are loads of sites that guide you through the process of removing a tick – simply Google it and you’ll be spoiled for choice.