First, while there are definitely differences between fleas and ticks, these pests can be equally annoying for both your pet and you. Fleas are the most common external parasites that you may discover on your dog. Regardless, both fleas and ticks when left untreated, can create chronic infestations and make your pet miserable. And you too can get flea or tick bites that are both annoying and sometimes a health risk.
Let’s first look at how to identify whether or not your dog has a flea or tick problem.
Both adult fleas and ticks can be seen with the naked eye. Fleas are wingless insects that have six legs, while ticks are more round in shape, and have eight legs. Fleas prefer warmer temperatures while ticks can survive close to freezing climates. If either of these pests are left untreated, subsequent infection and disease can occur. Being vigilant about signs and symptoms of flea or tick infestations allows you to quickly provide treatment for, and save your pet.
How to know if your dog has fleas
Fleas depend upon the host’s blood for survival and many dogs are allergic to the protein in a flea’s saliva causing them to scratch. Next, look for any red bumps appearing on your dog’s groin, belly or under their legs around their tail area.
Make a habit out of looking at your dog’s brush at grooming time and visually check your dog. You will be able to see the small brown fleas and they will look like dirt, but they scurry when you have your dog lies on their side or back.
How to know if your dog has ticks
Ticks are credited with being the worst parasites that any person or dog may have to deal with since they carry diseases that are dangerous to all of us. Like fleas, adult ticks are visible to the naked eye and are even more easily seen after they are full of blood. There are many different types of ticks but they are mostly reddish-brown or grayish-white and about 3/4-inch in size. Many breeds, including all types of schnauzers can suffer from notable loss of appetite, lethargy and fever for about a day when affected.
What to do if you find a flea or tick on your pet
If you in fact, discover either fleas or ticks on your schnauzer, remember to proceed thoughtfully. While it may be your first inclination to use a popular spot-on treatment available on the market, you must beware. These treatments contain pesticides the FDA is studying because of their harmful effects on dogs, smaller breeds in particular.
These harmful chemicals can cause illness, vomiting and even seizures in dogs. They can themselves also cause health problems in people who are sensitive to environmental chemicals like pesticides. These products are basically nerve poisons.
Some of the toxic chemical names to avoid found in the active ingredients of the conventional medicines and treatments include:
•Imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide which acts as an insect neurotoxin and affects the central nervous system.
•Fipronil, a slow acting and highly dangerous poison
•Permethrin, a chemical known to rapidly harm most mammals and birds
•Methoprene, that does not kill adult insects but rather affects the growth hormone indicator; and
•Pyriproxyfen, a chemical used to kill pests on crops and in yards.
Loving pet owners who use these treatments have trust in them and falsely believe that they are applying a medication to help their pet, when in reality they are exposing their dog and themselves to potent pesticide chemicals.
Options safe, effective and natural treatments
Fortunately, there are many safe and effective treatment options including home-remedy sprays and topical liquids that will eliminate fleas, ticks and their eggs. Fleas typically live for about 100 days, while a single tick can live for up to three years. Yet, the biggest concern about fleas and ticks are their eggs.
Fleas lay 20 to 40 eggs per day for weeks, and a tick will detach from their host and then lay thousands of eggs at one time before they die. Tick larvae, nymphs and adults all feed so it is critical to kill them as effectively as possible.
Also, when a dog has fleas, they act like a “pepper shaker” because the eggs shed wherever the pet roams and the eggs fall off onto bedding, carpets, and everywhere your dog spends time.
Fortunately, vacuuming can remove up to 90% of flea eggs from your carpet alone along with larvae and any food source. Make certain to throw away your vacuum bag promptly so that the fleas do not continue to live there. Keep in mind that some pet owners find that hardwood or tile floors are a better choice to help control hidden pests like fleas and ticks.
Non-carpeted floors are easier to vacuum and keep eggs from lurking in the home. You can use throw rugs, but those are easier to put into a washer and wash in hot water, just like the dog’s bedding.
With fleas, the first thing you will want to do is wash all of your pet bedding. Put it into the washing machine and use very hot water and a long cycle. This goes for throws in your home and even area rugs. Anything that is regularly used will be a home for fleas and you will want to wash it thoroughly. You may want to include some borax as a mold retardant and freshener. It probably helps clear off the flea eggs also.
Only adult fleas feed, so bathing your dog will provide him with initial comfort and relief. Introducing 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice to your normal mild-pet shampoo will also keep fleas away and kill any eggs left behind.
Ticks are removed by wearing gloves and using tweezers to pinch the tick as close to the skin as possible. Next, slowly but firmly pull the tick off and flush it down the toilet immediately.
Other remedies for natural repellent include: Rose Geranium Oil, which can be placed between your dogs shoulder blades and at the base of his tail to repel ticks; Lavender Oil on a bandanna makes a wonderful flea-collar; and 2-3 drops of Cedar Oil combined with a quart of water and a cup of distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar makes excellent natural flea spray. Lastly, a thick layer of table salt over your carpet and furniture is a successful tactic for drying out tick eggs — and vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.