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  • Taylor Phillips

The Definitive Guide to Treating and Controlling Dog Pests

Most people think of fleas when the topic of dog pests is brought up, but the truth is that hundreds of far more dangerous ones exist.

two dogs running on a trail

From ticks, over lice, and mites, to the lethal heartworms, dog owners are often ill-prepared to take appropriate measures to protect their pets. Today we’ve prepared a definitive guide on how to treat and control dog pests, so without any further ado, let’s start from the top.

Article Summary

  • Developing A Pest-Searching Routine

  • React To Odd Behaviors - Usually, They’re Symptoms Of Infections And Disease

  • Identifying Pests

  • Dog Pest Control

  • Dog Pest Treatment

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Developing A Pest-Searching Routine

Actively search your dog for any insects whenever you take it for a walk. Dog pests can be literally anywhere; heartworms are transmitted via mosquito bites; intestinal worms can be found in contaminated pools of water while tall grass can hide thousands of parasites. It’s important to note that only ‘external’ pests can be found through searches. Ticks, fleas, lice, and mites being the most common ones are fairly easy to find, and slightly more difficult to discern due to their petite size. Ticks, on the other hand, burrow themselves in the fur and skin of pets (and humans). Additionally, they tend to choose areas where they could be easily overlooked. Heartworms are ‘internal’ pests, meaning that they reside, breed, and wreak havoc on the system from within your dog’s organs (most notably the heart and lungs).

React To Odd Behaviors - Usually, They’re Symptoms Of Infections And Disease

Pest searches may not be successful every time. You may miss a spot or two, so you’ll have to rely on observing your dog for odd behavioral patterns. Dogs scratching and pawing at their collars, back, or hind legs are typical signs of flea bites, although most dogs would react similarly when attacked by lice or ticks. It’s easy to tell if your dog was stung by a wasp or a bee if its face or paws are swollen, but it’s usually hard to tell whether your dog is simply sick or infected by parasitic worms. Infections caused by parasites can be fairly tricky, as each type of parasite causes different symptoms. For example, intestinal worm infections normally cause diarrhea; paralysis ticks tend to cause disorientation. Whenever you notice your dog’s behavior isn’t exactly normal, even if it’s something as simple as refusing to eat or sleeping longer than usual, you should take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Identifying Pests

Pest control requires pest identification; before you do anything, do your best to properly identify the pest that has attacked or infected your dog. Taking your dog to the vet whenever it starts barking or scratching its back may cost you hundreds of dollars, so it’s better to acquaint yourself with the main characteristics and features of common dog pests. Fleas are easy to recognize as they move by “jumping” from one spot to the other. Dogs usually react to fleas by repeatedly scratching a particular spot, most notably the area around their collar and their back. They somewhat resemble houseflies, although their bodies are longer and with a yellowish tint. Ticks burrow themselves in out-of-sight locations; search for them in the fur of your dog’s belly, hind legs, or near the collar area. They resemble house spiders, with their bellies swelling as they feed. Mites are incredibly tiny pests, and they tend to hide where your dog’s fur is the thickest. Dozens of different types exist, with Pyemotes and Sarcoptes scabies being the most common ones. They belong to the family of arachnids, and they’re sometimes hard to discern from ticks. You can recognize them by their tendency to stick to the fur, as opposed to ticks that burrow in the skin.

Dog Pest Control

Each pest needs to be handled differently, although you can rest assured that you will be able to handle most of them without a veterinarian’s help. The simplest way to keep your dog pest-free is to limit its time outdoors. The more time your pet spends outside, the higher the risk of catching pests. Walk your dog on paved roads and try avoiding tall grass whenever possible. Night walks may be more comfortable for dog owners, but you should be wary of mosquitos. These pests will not only annoy your dog, but they can also transmit a range of diseases and parasites. To minimize the chance of your dog catching intestinal worms, make sure you always carry a bottle of water with you. Do not allow your dog to eat or drink anything while outside. You should also minimize the contact your dog makes with other animals. Flea or lice-infected dogs can quickly infect your pet if they get too close. Fortunately, ticks and most parasitic worms can’t be transmitted this way.

Dog Pest Treatment

After acquainting yourself with the most popular types of dog pests and taking measures of precaution, the only thing left is to learn how to treat infections and diseases caused by various pests. It’s important to note that heartworms, being the most lethal parasites on dogs, always require the help of a professional. Heartworms are dealt with through Melarsomine injections. Intestinal and most types of worm parasites are also treated with appropriate medication, most of which is commercially available in drugstores. Mites are best treated with natural-based shampoos, just like fleas. Chemical powders are best avoided unless severe infestations are taking place. Ticks can be fairly tricky to deal with. They need to be twisted and then pulled out of the skin; make sure to pull out the entire pest, as each part can continue spreading the infection. Anti-tick tools are handy for people who aren’t too confident in their own tick-removing abilities. Whichever pest you remove from your dog’s skin or fur you should keep in an icebox. Bring the box to your veterinarian if your dog continues showing symptoms of infection or disease. The pest’s body will allow vets to identify its characteristics and recommend appropriate medicine. Finally, anti-pest collars may be costly, but they are an excellent long-term pest control solution. You should continue pest searches, even if your dog is wearing the collar.

We hope that this guide was useful to you and that you have learned something new today. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!

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