In addition to internal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms, dogs may be affected by external parasites, including fleas, lice and ticks. Therefore, it is important to be aware of symptoms to look out for and to seek treatment as soon as possible, to avoid unnecessary suffering.
How to Treat Dog Fleas and Lice
The first step to treating dogs with fleas and/or lice is to know exactly what the symptoms are, to catch it early. Dogs affected by either of these external parasites will very likely be persistently scratching themselves. Lice and nits may be discovered by searching the dog’s coat, as they are visible to the naked eye, while flea droppings will appear like coal dust in the fur. Those suffering from fleas may also have small reddish scabs, which are particularly noticeable on the back.
Treatment for dogs with fleas (available from the vet), as recommended by Taylor in Jack Russell Terrier: An Owner’s Guide, include the following:
- Insecticidal sprays
- Dog shampoos
- Dog powders
- Aerosol products to treat bedding and furniture
As with dog flea treatments, dogs suffering with a lice infestation will require special sprays or powders, which may be obtained from either the vet or a pet shop. Similar to the way in which children with head-lice are treated, dogs with lice will need three rounds of treatment at five to seven day intervals.
Treatment for Dogs with Ticks
Ticks are recognised to affect dogs living in the country more than those in urban areas and have the potential to be very harmful, as when they pierce the dog’s skin they can transmit Borrelia. This organism may then lead to the dog developing Lyme Disease, resulting in heart problems and lameness, with the condition also affecting humans. The tick will cling to the dog’s hair and suck up blood, with it being most commonly located on the legs or head.
As identified by Taylor, ticks may be removed using fine tweezers to grasp near the mouth, after dabbing it with alcohol, to avoid the risk of abscess formation. Further means of treating ticks is to use flea spray the day before attempting to remove the parasite or fit the dog with a special insecticidal collar during summer, where ticks are more prevalent.
As highlighted above, the key symptom to watch out for, in relation to ticks, lice or fleas, include the dog persistently scratching. Treatment for dog lice and fleas include using dog spray, powder and shampoo, while ticks may be removed using a combination of alcohol and fine tweezers.