As we all know, tis the season to be bitten! Fleas and ticks are rife in Spring and Summer and whilst majority of our dogs manage to stay flea and tick free, it is so easy for dogs to pick them up even when on treatment. The treatment only works when the flea or tick actually bites the dogs so although a treated dog has a low chance of getting infested it is still possible for them to have ticks or the odd flea hanging around.
Now, let’s start with fleas. I have heard of groomers closing their whole salon and cancelling all their scheduled appointments for the rest of the day when they get a dog with fleas, which as I’m sure you can agree, is just not financially feasible unless you are planning to charge the client all your grooms that day. If you notice fleas on a dog, firstly don’t panic, there are numerous products on the market that can kill fleas.
I always have a flea shampoo (Bye Bye Buzz) from Christies, which I soak the dog in for 10 to 15 minutes. Whilst they are soaking, I spray around the salon with flea spray on any beds and especially the reception area and make sure to ventilate well, the chances are that if any jumped off it will only be a couple, so getting in there quickly before they find a place to hide is the best thing to do. Any bedding can go on a 90 degree wash which will kill any live fleas. When it’s time to rinse the dog, all the live fleas will be dead, and you can carry on with your job as normal. This isn’t to say they will stay flea free as unfortunately if they are riddled then the fleas will be in their bed at home, the carpets and the furniture and they will pick them back up as soon as they get home. In this circumstance all you can do is advise the owner of the importance of regular flea and tick treatments from the vets.
In Spring and Summer I like to use the Bye Bye Buzz shampoo and spray which is a natural flea repellent with citronella in so it naturally deters fleas and ticks, I use this on my dogs and also on customers dogs at their request and it’s amazing for repelling those nasty critters. In regards to your next dogs coming in, if they are regularly treated for fleas even if one rogue flea escapes your deep cleaning methods then as soon as they bite a treated dog, it will die anyway so try not to panic too much.
Obviously in an ideal world none of the dogs would have fleas but at this time of the year it’s hard to navigate. Always remember a dog has more chance of picking up fleas from the bush they love to wee up against in their own garden, than they do your salon. We do however turn away repeat offenders of being riddled with fleas. We charge a flea fee if we have to use flea products on any dogs that come with fleas which acts as a deterrent to ensure everyone keeps up to date with the regular flea treatments. Most vets actually offer a monthly payment plan for such medicines which really helps if you can get signed up to one!
Ticks we actually see a lot more of then fleas in the salon and in Spring/Summer they can be rife. Lyme’s disease can be common in parasites, so it’s very important to keep a close eye. Regular grooming is so good for the dogs as when we bath and dry them the coat separates, enabling us to see everything that can be hiding at the root of the hair, including ticks. Again, regular tick treating will mean any ticks that latch onto your pet at feed will ingest the treatment and be killed, but it still has to attach and feed to do that so it’s important for owners to brush through their dogs at home after a walk in long grass to get any ticks out. Along with regular grooming this should be enough. I once groomed a dog that had a whopping 42 ticks on him! We actually had to send him immediately to the vets as he seemed very lethargic and it turned out he had anaemia!
It's important for not only professional groomers but also for pet owners to have a tick pick at hand and familiarise yourself in how to get a tick out. There is so much bad advice about getting ticks out such as smothering them with Vaseline or just yanking them out. Both can be very dangerous! By smothering a tick, it will indeed eventually die but after regurgitating it’s whole contents back into your dog including any diseases. And by just yanking them out with tweezers, you are at a high probability of leaving the head of the tick inside the dog as it detaches with force, which will lead to an infection. The correct way is to gently slide a tick pick under and turn anticlockwise to remove the tick. I then personally squash them to ensure they are dead. Deer ticks are particularly hard to find as they are very small and very red but these ones are much more likely to carry Lymes disease which once infected is a lifelong conditi
So to summarise, here are my top tips to keeping your dogs flea and tick free:
1. Regular flea and tick treatments from your vet especially important if your dog is a forager.
2. Regular grooming so the coat is well kept and so we can see the skin.
3. Use natural products to aid with flea and tick repellent in high parasite seasons such as spring and summer.
4. Always have a tick pick available
One final note, Ticks can also attach themselves to us and our children so after walking in long grass it’s important to check ourselves over as well as our pets!