Dog Ticks and Fleas Q&A
WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about fleas and ticks on your dog.
A: Ticks and fleas can be worse from one area to another and can vary
seasonally and from year to year. There’s one particular flea species that we
find on dogs and cats in North America that predominates ... called
Ctenocephalides felis, or the cat flea. That flea is very susceptible to
drying. So that's why there are more fleas in Tampa than in Kansas City, and
more fleas in Kansas City than Denver. Once you get into the Rocky Mountain
states, for example, or even the Western areas of the plains states, fleas on
dogs and cats are not that much of a problem because it’s just too dry. The
Gulf Coast region of North America and the Southeast region are the flea
capital. As you move inland, however, depending on the rainfall in a given
year, it can be OK or get very horrid at times.
Ticks have different biologies and behaviors, of course. And certain areas
have more tick problems than others. The upper Midwest and the extreme
Northeast, from Pennsylvania up, have a very serious problem with the Lyme
disease tick. But if you get down to the south central part of the United
States, ticks also can be absolutely horrible. There are very few places in
North America you can’t encounter ticks today, because there are so many
Q: Can I stop using preventives in winter months, when all the fleas,
ticks, and mosquitoes are dead?
A: It depends on where you’re located. In most of the United States, my
answer today is “No” for various reasons. There are so many different tick
species, and fleas can be a problem even late into the fall. If you get into
some of the more northern states or into Canada, where they have very long,
protracted winters, then it could be reasonable for several months. But even
here in Eastern Kansas I don’t recommend stopping. We’ve only got about 40-45
days a year when we don’t see ticks.
Q: I know about Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but now
I’m hearing about new diseases my dog can get from ticks. Are these diseases
rare? How worried should I be about my dog contracting a tick-borne
A: It depends on where you live. Some of these diseases are local. What you
have to do is, depending on where you live, talk to your veterinarian and find
out what diseases are important in your area. The diseases that are important
to dogs and cats in Kansas are not the same diseases that are important to dogs
and cats in Connecticut.
Q: An environmental group has sued several pet stores and
manufacturers claiming that flea collars have high concentrations of chemicals
in them that are dangerous to pets and people. Are these over-the-counter flea