Learn about protection in 10 min
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In this flipbook, you’ll learn about different worms, ticks and fleas, where your pet can get them, which pets are at risk, and how to protect against them.
Getting your first puppy can be an exciting day for anyone of any age. Your mind is racing with all the tricks you’re going to teach them, playing fetch in the park and all the cool toys.
But, there’s a step first that many don’t consider. Protection against ticks, fleas and worms is just as important when you’re learning how to take care of a puppy.
While you can’t control every illness or condition, protecting against ticks, fleas and worms is definitely something any owner can take control of.
Here are 6 ways you can protect your puppy’s health.
While tiny, ticks can pose a significant threat to your puppy’s health. It’s important to recognize the various types out there so you can take the necessary steps to ensure that your puppy stays happy and safe. While it’s good to have a plan of action if your puppy is bitten, the best method of protection is early protection.
Many illnesses such as lethargy, fever, joint issues and even depression are caused by ticks and fleas, but this reason often goes unnoticed. Here are some diseases spread by ticks and fleas:
Where can your puppy come in contact with fleas and ticks?
Your dog can pick up ticks and fleas in many different places – some of which you might not expect.
Ticks and fleas lurk on shrubbery and are attracted to heat and fleas can even move from object to object. As a puppy owner, make sure you think about where you are walking your dogs, letting them play, as well as hunting, hiking and swimming. Talk to your vet about your pet’s lifestyle.
Protecting your pet all year round is something many pet owners forget to do. Ticks and fleas are active anywhere above 35 degrees Fahrenheit, but are most rampant in the warmer months. In the winter, ticks take shelter underneath snow and leaf cover, while fleas can work their way indoors or under homes. In 2018 alone, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) had over 300,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in dogs.4
Even if your puppy spends most of their time indoors, a single fertile female tick can lay anywhere from 4,000-15,000 eggs5 if given the opportunity. Some fleas can survive for several weeks once indoors, and can lay up to 50 eggs per day.3
Infestations can take more than 2 months to resolve once treatments begin. Under normal conditions, most adult fleas generally survive 2-3 months. Moderate to severe flea infestations may take several months to bring under control.3
The risk of heartworms and GI worms is present regardless of region. Since worm infections are nearly impossible to avoid, taking the right measures to ensure your puppy is adequately and repeatedly treated for worms can save them, and you, a world of trouble.
Humans of any age can also be affected by worms transmitted through their puppy, so it’s important for the whole family that your puppy stays healthy.
Heartworm disease is one of the most common risks for dogs of any age. Heartworms can reach lengths of nearly 12 inches and live in the major blood vessels of the lungs.6 Dogs also won't test positive until at least 6 months ater infection.6 By then, your puppy probably won’t be so little, and those worms will continue to grow and can even cause sudden death.
Watch for these signs and have your dog tested every year for heartworms by your veterinarian. Keep your dog on monthly heartworm prevention.
If left untreated, heartworms can also cause very serious and life-threatening issues with the heart, lungs, kidneys and bloodflow.
You can avoid this altogether if you start your puppy’s heartworm protection early – and treat monthly. Your puppy will thank you for it.
This might seem like a lot of information, but with the help of first year puppy wellness visits and annual wellness checks with your vet, you can maintain a strategy.
Your vet will have the best, and most accurate, information when it comes to your dog’s health.
While online research can provide some insight, it’s only with the help of a qualified vet that you can find definitive results and necessary treatment for your own dog.
Be sure to schedule annual visits for your dog, or even bi-annual, and never hesitate to set up an appointment if you have questions or your puppy is exhibiting unusual signs.
Educating yourself is the first step in controlling ticks and fleas and preventing and heartworm disease. Year round protection is another big factor, as the threat doesn’t simply disappear in cold weather.
Your vet will always be happy to speak to you about the health of your pet, and they’re your best resource in ensuring that your puppy grows up healthy and strong; whether it be your puppy’s vaccinations, treatments or other preventative care.
If you stay on top of that, then your puppy will be much healthier and happier.
Discover more important things you should know about ticks, fleas and worms and review some key points from this flipbook.
Your puppy can pick up fleas just about anywhere, including the dog kennel, the dog park and your backyard. Fleas often live on opossums, raccoons, skunks and other wild animals. Rabbits and roaming domestic cats can also carry fleas. When these animals pass through your yard, flea eggs drop off and develop into adults that seek your puppy out7.
Once a flea lands on your puppy, it plans to stay there. Fleas don’t search for new hosts once they have one.7 Usually, if one jumps onto your puppy,it’s coming from a contaminated environment, not direct contact with another animal.
In mild infestations, you may not see fleas on your puppy. You may find small black pellets of “flea dirt” on their fur, but that might be it. Numbers can increase rapidly though, since female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day and 2,000 during her lifetime. In moderate and severe infestations, you may at least see some adult fleas crawling on their skin.7 By the time you see fleas, the environment has likely already been contaminated. Fleas can continue to emerge from previously laid eggs for several months.
Fleas are more than just a nuisance. They can cause tapeworm infection, bartonellosis (cat scratch fever) and other diseases and conditions that can affect both your puppy and you.7
Fleas can be right under your nose yet unseen
Ticks can spread many diseases such as Lyme disease, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Some of these are debilitating or even deadly to your pet – and you.8
Ticks find hosts through a process called questing.8,9 They climb up tall vegetation, wave their front legs back and forth and when animals walk by, they grab hold, latch on and feed.9
Ticks secrete a glue-like substance to firmly secure their mouthparts to your pet’s skin.3,11 To remove a tick, wear gloves and use tweezers to grasp it close to their skin. Extract it using steady rearward pressure.8 Don’t twist, jerk or crush a tick. If you do, you may leave its mouth parts in your pet’s skin, which increases the risk of infection and disease.8
Rhipicephalus sanguineus (more commonly known as the brown dog tick) is the most widespread tick in the world.12 You’ll find it wherever dogs are found. It’s also the only species adapted to live and reproduce indoors.9
Ticks are dangerous for you and your pet
Worm eggs and larvae exist in nature, in the soil or in other animals and insects. Your dog can be exposed to them by being outside anywhere from your garden to a public park. Your pet can consume worm eggs, larvae or an intermediate host, such as a flea or a mouse. Some worm larvae, like hookworms, can even penetrate your pet's skin to cause an infection.
Due to mild winters, the population of parasites and their hosts is increasing.13 Plus, pets are more likely to be exposed to parasites due to increased reservoirs.14
Your dog may look healthy on the outside even if worms are growing on the inside: you may not see the signs until the infection is severe.
Some worms can pass from dogs to people through contact or through the environment. Deworming regularly is recommended to help minimize risk.15
Being anywhere outside can expose your pet
The length of a flea’s life cycle emphasizes just how important constant protection is. Eggs are deposited on a host and fall into the environment in a few hours. They become maggot-like larvae that develop in cool, shady areas. They then form whitish pupae (a cocooned form) and stay in this state for 8 days to 30 weeks depending on conditions. They then emerge as adults and begin feeding immediately if on a host.9
Egg production begins 20 to 24 hours after feeding. A female flea can produce 40 to 50 eggs per day and can survive for 2-3 months.3
Monthly protection helps break the 30-day lifecycle of worms. Your pet can consume worm eggs, larvae or an intermediate host, such as a flea, mouse, slug or snail. The worms then develop inside your pet and produce eggs. Some of those eggs are then passed into your pet’s feces. Some worm larvae, like hookworms, can even penetrate your pet's skin to cause an infection.16
16 ESCCAP Guideline 01: Worm control in cats and dogs. Third edition