Can fleas and ticks spread from my dog to my home and family?

Yes. Unfortunately, there is one particular type of tick that will molt off of your dog at a certain stage, and they will lay eggs, and these eggs can infest your house. So as disgusting as that may be, yes, ticks can infest your home. And ticks can carry a lot of horrible diseases. We do not want you guys exposed to ticks. We don't want your pets exposed and your family exposed either. We also see flea infestations in homes all the time. Once your dog has one, or your cat has one flea on them, within 24 to 48 hours, that flea is laying 30 to 50 eggs a day.

Just imagine how long it would take for them to become infested. Those eggs they lay can stay in the environment in the pupal stage for up to a year and just wait for the right environmental conditions to pop out as an adult flea to jump back on your pet. The products we have are so amazing and safe for everybody in the family and your pet, so let's talk about what's the best thing for your cat, dog, and your family, to keep everybody flea and tick-free.

Dr. Michele Drake
The Drake Center

Can my dog get fleas and ticks if they are primarily an indoor dog?

Yeah. Ticks hang out on the ends of tall grasses, so if your dog goes outside to go to the bathroom and is anywhere near any tall grass, they can pick up a tick. So yes, even a mostly indoor dog can pick up a tick. When it comes to fleas, if you live in a community that's sort of dense, or if you have wildlife in your backyard and your dog goes outside to go to the bathroom, and there have been rabbits there, and they've dropped off flea eggs, your pet can also pick them up. So pretty much every dog and cat needs to have an external parasite program.

What health problems can fleas and ticks cause my dog?

I've seen some severe infestations of fleas and ticks that can cause anemias and, even at their worst, terrible skin problems. Undoubtedly, both the flea and the tick can pass diseases that your dog or your cat can pick up.

How effective are flea and tick medications?

The flea and tick medications we have now are incredibly safe. They work exceptionally well. They're very effective at what they do—some products are more preventative, and others just wait until you have a flea or tick problem and then kill the tick or flea. But the products we have now are great.

What is the difference between over-the-counter and prescription flea and tick medications?

Some over-the-counter products have been very dangerous. We've seen owners apply dog medications to cats, unaware that they can kill a cat, and many of these products are not effective. While some over-the-counter products are okay, they're never going to be as effective as the products you're going to get from your veterinarian.

What different types of flea and tick preventative treatments are there?

There are oral tablets, and there are topical medications. There are also some collars that stay on the pet.  That's the primary source of medications out there for flea and tick prevention and killing these parasites.

What will my veterinarian recommend for flea and tick treatment?

Every veterinary practice has an opportunity to choose the products they think are the best and the safest. Every year at the Drake Center, we analyze the current products that we're using and then anything new that has come out to determine the safest and most effective product for the value. We do pick those also with the owners/families in mind. We really would like to do the best we can to decrease any sort of exposure that humans will have to products, so we use all those factors to determine what products we're going to use.

veterinarian in encinitas
Dog with doctor

How can I identify fleas on my dog?

Fleas are incredibly tiny insects. They're a couple of millimeters long, and they do also produce a lot of excrement, which some people call flea dirt. It looks like black, sooty stuff. If you were to get that wet, it looks like blood because it's dried blood. They've had a blood meal off your pet, and now they're pooping out the things that they don't need anymore. So you'll see flea dirt, and you can see live fleas.

I have many owners that come in here, and I find a flea on their pet. They're like, "Oh my gosh, we had no idea." I'm an expert at finding fleas, but really if you use a flea comb or you start to look through your dog's coat or your cat's coat, you may find them. Cats are good at grooming, so they'll groom them off quicker than dogs will. But usually, we can find evidence of it if we use a flea comb.

How can I identify ticks on my dog?

Ticks are kind of funny. Many times people bring their dog in with a wart. They think it's a tick, but it's a wart. Ticks embed their heads into your pet's skin, and that's how they hang on and collect blood meals. The tick can be small. It can be a nymph size, which is very tiny. It can be a regular, adult-sized tick. Or it can be an engorged tick, which is just full of blood, and they're ready to produce eggs, and that's what the eggs feed off of. Various sizes can be on your pet, but they look like an insect that's attached to the skin.  You'll see the little legs coming off the side of their bodies.

What should I do if I see fleas or ticks on my dog?

I would recommend you go to your vet so that they can get the best products that are safe for you. Also, they can show you how to remove the tick safely. Because we don't want people handling ticks. If they remove them, and they have a cut on them, and there's some blood, they can be infected with what the tick had. We want to be careful with that.

Then we're going to make sure that they have something on board that's going to continue because there will be more fleas in the environment that will continue to hatch out and jump back on your pet. So we're going to want to have a significant conversation with you about how many pets are in the household, what's their lifestyle, and what's the best product for them.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Flea & Tick FAQs

Dr. Michele Drake
The Drake Center

How do I know what the best prevention for my dog is?

At the Drake Center, what we're going to do is find out more about your dog's lifestyle, how many pets are in the household, and whether you have an active case or not to determine whether or not we're going to use both a preventative and an actual adulticide. The treatment depends on what medications we're going to choose for your pets.

Is flea prevention needed year-round?

In San Diego, we need flea protection year around. We have fleas here all the time because it never freezes. It may depend on where you live, but for the most part, year-round prevention is the best way to go.

How can I control fleas and ticks in my dog's environment?

We recommend a product called Sentinel, which every time a flea lays 30 to 50 eggs a day, those eggs never hatch out. That's essential for environmental control. If you come to us and you already have an infestation of fleas or ticks, what we're going to recommend is that you do a lot of vacuuming. You do not need to spray and bomb your house or spray your yard because very few adults are part of the problem. In the pupal stage, nothing kills it except fire, so I tell people not to bother with using poisons in the environment. Let them just hatch out, as there is a product that your dog or your cat is treated with so that, as they jump and hatch out and they get on your dog, they're going to die. Then again, using both that with a combination of a preventative product will get the problem under control very quickly.

Are there vaccines for flea and tick-borne diseases?

Yes, there is a vaccine for Lyme disease which is transmitted by ticks.

Will fleas and ticks resolve on their own?

Fleas and ticks will not resolve on their own. They will just get worse.

Are there home remedies to prevent fleas and ticks?

There are so many things being sold out there that are utter nonsense. I know back in the day, people used to say that brewer's yeast or garlic works, and none of these things work. I'm sorry, just don't even bother. Some of these things are dangerous. People have a thing about diatomaceous earth. If you put that in your carpet, every time you vacuum, you're breathing that in yourself, and I don't think that's healthy at all, so I really don't recommend those things. Please work with your veterinarian to find the safest and most effective product.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.