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

Yes, they can, but indirectly. Fleas and ticks seldom jump off of their host, so once they get on an animal, they're not going to jump off or climb off unless something chases them off. What the fleas will do is lay eggs in the animal's coat. Those flea eggs will fall out of the coat into the environment, where they will later hatch and turn into adult fleas. Once they mature, they will jump onto a new host.

Gregory Lloyd
Hebron Animal Hospital

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

Most dogs get fleas and ticks, especially fleas, when they go outside. They don't have to be around another dog. All they have to do is go to any area of the yard where a wild animal has traversed. So if a deer, rabbit, raccoon, or possum walks across your yard, flea eggs fall off those animals into the environment, and from there, those eggs will hatch at a later date. When your dog walks by, they will hop and jump on your animal. As far as ticks go, ticks like to drop from overhanging brush. So they're not likely to get a tick indoors or just by going outside and going to the bathroom. But if they walk through shrubs, bushes, or the woods, they're very likely to pick up ticks that way.

What health problems can fleas and ticks cause in my dog?

Both a flea and a tick have the potential to spread disease, but when they bite their host, they inject their saliva. So if they are infected with an organism, they will infect your pet. Not all fleas and ticks harbor these diseases, but many do. You've probably heard of things like Lyme's Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis. These are diseases that are spread by ticks. Fleas can spread other bacterial infections through their saliva. In particular, fleas can cause dogs and cats to get both tapeworms, as far as a parasite goes, but it can cause cats to get an infection called Feline Bartonella.

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

It often has to do with how long the product's been on the market and how it is used. Most tick collars are over-the-counter because they're not something that's ingested. They are what are known as EPA products: Environmental Protective Agency products. They're registered with them. Oral medications are FDA or Food and Drug Administrative-registered products. Those have to be given by prescription. There is a big difference as to how the two of them work, and there's a very big difference in the safety. Oral medications are often much safer than over-the-counter type collars and medications.

What are the different types of flea and tick prevention treatments?

There are some collars. People may have heard of Seresto, made by Bayer. It's a decent collar that probably works better for ticks than fleas. Unfortunately, in a small category of animals that have neurologic disease, the Seresto collar has caused some problems. You just need to be aware that not every product is 100% safe. Other topical solutions are put on the skin, behind the neck and shoulders, such as Revolution, K9 Advantix, and Frontline. Then, of course, there are multiple oral products out there, such as Credelio, Nexgard, and Bravecto.

What will my veterinarian recommend for flea and tick treatment?

I think everybody has a different experience and a different opinion about what works best. I don't recommend one product to 100% of my patients. There are certain products that I will avoid if a pet has a certain medical condition. Especially when young children or people with sensitivities to products are involved, I don't like things on the dog's skin because that affects everybody around the pet. Oral medications certainly have proven to be very safe.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 349-1020, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media,