Dog Ticks and Fleas Q&A
WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about fleas and ticks on your dog.
If you have a lot of fleas, since they’re blood-sucking insects, especially
if you have puppies, pets can become anemic and even die with heavy
infestations. Fleas also commonly transmit tapeworms to our pets, at least one species.
With ticks, there are a dozen to 15 or more tick-transmitted diseases that
our pets get from ticks. There’s Lyme
disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and more. Many of these diseases can kill
Q: Are fleas and ticks worse in some areas? Where?
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.