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Fleas and Ticks in Dogs – Symptoms and Treatment

scratchTicks and fleas are a common problem that we all need to come to terms with.

At some point in time your dog will encounter one of these nasty little creatures.

Ticks, for instance, can cause a deadly disease called biliary fever. If caught early, biliary fever can be cured, if not, you dog may need a blood transfusion or may even die from the disease. Ticks can also cause Lyme disease.

Let’s have a look at these tiny parasites separately.


I’m starting with these guys as it’s a problem I often have to deal with. My dogs regularly go with me into bushy regions and are often exposed to long grass and reeds, not to mention countless other dogs.


What do ticks do to dogs? Generally speaking, you will often know your dog has ticks because you can see them. The most common tick is a small brown tick (the male), the size of the tip of a matchstick.

The female is pea-sized. She’s commonly known (depending on where you live) as the bont tick, blood tick or blue tick.

Apart from causing disease, these bloodsuckers also inflict wounds and abscesses as they latch onto the dog to feed. They can also cause ear infections by crawling into the ear.

Life Cycle:

Ticks are most active when the humidity rises such as during the rainfall season – where I live in South Africa, that means spring and summer. They go through three different hosts in their lifetime and their life cycle consists of eggs, larvae, nymphs and the adult.

The female adult, depending on species of tick, can lay between 3,000 and 5,000 eggs.


Prevention is better than cure. Always examine your dog when home after a walk. Remove the ticks with a pair of tweezers and kill them using rubbing alcohol or burning them with a match.

This may sound extreme but ticks can kill your dog and transmit a disease to you, the owner, called tick bite fever.

Regularly apply tick-killing chemicals such as Spot-On or Frontline or a dip. Don’t forget to clean the kennel on a regular basis.

Tick and flea collars work, in addition to other treatments – see this one. If your dog already has ticks, you’ll have to learn how to get ticks off a dog. The video below has good tips.

If you suspect your dog is ill, seek veterinary treatment immediately.

Symptoms of biliary fever:

  1. Gums, inside of ears and whites of the eyes become very pale.
  2. Dog is lethargic.
  3. Loss of appetite.

Symptoms of Lyme disease:

  1. Stiff walking, arched back
  2. Lymph nodes just under skin close to the tick bite may be swollen
  3. Inflammation of the joints
  4. Depression
  5. Fever
  6. Lack of appetite
  7. Sensitivity to touch

So if your dog already has ticks, what is the best way to remove tick from dog? See this video on how to


These guys are hardy and nearly impossible to get rid of. Here are some tips about how to know if your dog has fleas and dog flea control.


How to know if your dog has fleas? Inflamed spots on the dog where the fleas have bitten. Many dogs are allergic to flea bites and this will cause the dog to bite and scratch itself excessively, sometime to the point that the dog does damage to its skin.

Here is an unfortunate fact: Fleas are the intermediate hosts of tapeworm! So, if your dog has tapeworm, check for fleas or flea eggs. Tapeworm is common in dogs rescued and placed in shelters.

Life Cycle:

Fleas love moist and warm environments, which makes coastal regions ideal. Their life cycle consists of eggs, larvae, pupae and the adult.

The female lays between 400 and 500 eggs (20 at a time) during her lifetime and the adult can live without food for several months at a time.


Once you have a flea problem, you need to be patient and devoted to get rid of them.

Treat all animals (cats included) with insecticides such as Frontline or a dip. Getting rid of fleas is a prolonged exercise, so be prepared for the long-haul to break the cycle. These very highly rated tabs work to kill all the flea eggs.

There are also some good flea collars on the market that will help keep the tiny creatures at bay, this one is a good deal.

DON’T FORGET: Treat your home, the car and their kennels as well. Don’t forget the cat or the cat-cave.

Because fleas are the intermediate hosts of tapeworm, if you suspect you dog has worms (your vet will check for you), you need to deworm: all dogs, all cats, all other animals and all humans, especially children – they like to put things in their mouths ☺


1. Prevention is better than cure.
2. Use vet-approved products.
3. Check your dog after every walk for ticks and fleas.
4. Don’t forget the cat!
5. If you suspect worms, deworm EVERYONE, not only the culprit.
6. Use insecticides on your carpet, dog’s kennel, cat-cave; not only on the infected animal.


More reading:

Information about Lyme disease in dogs

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robert May 22, 2013, 3:32 pm

    Good stuff! One thing that’s great for fleas in your carpets, as well as non-toxic and free, is frequent vacuuming. Do it every day if you can. And, using some borate powder like Fleabusters, or even plain old borax, will help a lot. That stuff will scratch the fleas’ exoskeletons and dehydrate them. Gotta keep at it though.