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Insect Control: Protect Your Dog From These Pests

Updated on April 26, 2013

Those Pesky Pests

Oh No! I have WHAT???
Oh No! I have WHAT??? | Source

What’s Bugging Your Dog?


Is your dog scratching incessantly, even during cool weather? The sad truth is that pests can set up residence on your dog any time of year – making his life (and yours) miserable.

It isn’t always feasible to keep Rover inside but if he’s going to spend any of his spare time in the great outdoors, he needs some protection. Insect control on dogs depends on the season – the type of pest that’s bugging your furry friend – and his physical reaction. In some cases, you might have to treat more than just the dog to get rid of the problem.

Let’s take a look at some common culprits and how to get rid of them once and for all.

Fleas: The Tiny Terrors

Ugly under a microscope, to the naked eye, fleas are about the size of a pin head.
Ugly under a microscope, to the naked eye, fleas are about the size of a pin head. | Source

Insect Control: Fleas


If your dog doesn’t bring home a flea or two at least once in his life – he might not have much of a life. That’s because fleas are virtually everywhere; in the grass, on the sidewalk, on a gravel driveway and (unfortunately) at the lake house you rented for the weekend.

If your dog is lucky enough to pick up just one flea, there’s no problem. The flea might bite him, but because there is no mate, it will eventually die and your dog will once again be flea-free. If he picks up a few fleas, however, it’s a different story.

Symptoms that your dog might have fleas include relentless scratching, chewing on paws or hindquarter and constant licking. On light-furred dogs, especially those with short coats, fleas are easy to see, but if you have a longhair dog or if his fur is dark, you might miss the nasty little critters. The easiest place to spot fleas is on the thin hair of your dog’s stomach. Offer him a tummy-tickle and take a close look. If you see small, oval shaped bugs scurrying about – your dog has fleas.

Dog flea treatments, such as Frontline for Dogs, are highly effective when applied correctly. The dosage depends on your dog’s weight and you will apply it to the skin between his shoulder blades. For the best results, do not bathe your dog (or let him swim) for 48 hours before and after treating with Frontline for Dogs.

Frontline and similar topical medications enter your dog’s skin and kill any fleas that bite for about two months afterward. That’s plenty of time to eradicate even the toughest fleas. If it’s rare for your dog to pick up fleas, try a prevention collar instead. These collars emit an odor that repels fleas and other pests, but their effectiveness is limited.

Flea dips are another good way to get rid of fleas. The confusing thing is that they are not “dips” at all, but rather, solutions that mix with water and that you apply just as you would apply dog shampoo or conditioner to your dog. Follow flea dip directions carefully. Some dips work best on unbathed dogs and other dips require that your dog be bathed before treatment.

Get Tough and Grab That Tick!

Insect Control: Ticks


These disgusting bloodsuckers are seasonal, coming out of hiding with the first sign of warm weather and remaining until the cool days of autumn. Your dog picks them up by lying in the grass or brushing up against tall weeds where ticks lie in wait for their prey.

Symptoms of a tick infestation include frenzied itching, usually around the neck, face and ear area and chewing as well. Often, the dog’s scratching will kill a biting tick, which will then dry up and resemble a small hard matt in the dog’s fur. If the dog can’t reach the tick by scratching, the tick will engorge itself on the dog’s blood, swelling and taking on a light gray or pinkish hue. Eventually, the tick will drop off – but most people are anxious to remove it.

Immediate treatment for a tick on your dog is to pull it off. There’s no need to fiddle around with tweezers or touching it with a matchstick. Just pull on a pair of rubber cleaning gloves, grab the tick firmly and pull it off. It will probably still be alive so flush it down the commode to keep it from re-biting your dog…or you.

Frontline Plus for Dogs controls ticks as well as fleas and one treatment is good for one – two months. Most ticks do not carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease, but if the one that bit your dog was infected, your furry friend could fall ill, exhibiting loss of appetite, joint pain and fatigue. If you notice any of these symptoms after a tick bite, see your veterinarian promptly.

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Insect Control: Flying Pests


Mosquitos, bees, wasps and other flying pests are more than a nuisance, they can trigger instant pain or expose your dog to serious illness.

Dogs don’t seem to mind mosquitos too much, but these flying fiends can infect your dog with Heartworms. Heartworms is a potentially fatal disease whereby the tiny larvae deposited by the mosquito bite, develop into full-grown worms that travel in your dog’s bloodstream, eventually taking up residence in his heart. Heartworms is a scary disease and the treatment, which involves killing the worms, can cause the dog’s death if the decomposing worms block an artery. The best way to deal with heartworms is to prevent them by giving your dog a monthly preventative, such as Heartgard.

Bee and wasp stings hurt! A frightened yelp is common, but if you don’t see your dog until after the fact, the first thing you might notice is localized swelling, usually on the muzzle or ears. Outside of removing wasp nests near your home, there is very little you can do in the way of protecting your dog from a sting.

You can ease his pain and shorten the duration of his suffering, however, by giving him an antihistamine, like Benadryl. Ask your vet to recommend an exact dose for your dog, but the standard does is 25mg per every 50 pounds of dog weight. For a 25-pound dog, you would cut the antihistamine tablet in half. For a 100-pound dog, you will offer two tablets.

A little love and soothing go a long way. When your dog is suffering from a painful sting, reassure him and give him a little extra love. Your dog doesn’t understand why he hurts, but he will appreciate extra love and attention.

Insect Control: How do You Keep Pests Off Your Pooch?

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