Dog Smarts: Fleas and Ticks in the Spring

If you’ve ever wondered how and why to treat fleas and ticks, why not ask a practicing veterinarian? We wondered, so we asked our longtime friend and veterinarian, Dr. Kircher.

Dr. Kircher

Dr. Kircher

Dr. Kircher is a St. Louis native who graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972 and has been operating his private practice in South County for over 30 years. His office is located right around the corner from our South County location at 3541 Ritz Center.

He was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss fleas and ticks just in time for Spring.

TWB:  First of all, Dr. Kircher, thank you for joining us. Let’s start by asking, why is it necessary to use a preventative year round when most bugs die off in the winter?

Dr. K:  Cold temperatures only kill the flea and tick stages that are outside. Fleas can live on an animal, in houses, in basements, garages or any indoor facility all year long.

TWB:  That makes sense. What type of protection works best—oral or topical?

Dr. K:  Both oral and topical products are very effective. For an oral product to work, the parasite has to bite the animal. Topical products may kill the fleas before they have a chance to feed, and therefore may be helpful for an animal that suffers from fleabite allergy.

TWB:  Do these products work differently depending on the life cycle of the fleas?

Dr. K:  Most products kill the adult stages. Some also kill the eggs, and larval stages of the life cycle, which may help with complete control.

TWB:  Interesting. Are these products safe to use?

Dr. K:  Most products are safe, but label directions should be followed closely. Some products that can be used on dogs can be toxic to cats, and their use should be avoided in a household with dogs and cats. Never use anything on a cat that is not specifically labeled for use on cats.

TWB:  That’s good advice. What’s the best way to remove a tick from a dog?

Dr. K:  To remove a tick, apply alcohol to the tick and surrounding area, and let the alcohol dry. Grasp the tick with forceps (tweezers) as close to the skin as possible and remove from the skin with a gentle, steady pressure. Always avoid rupturing the body of the tick.

TWB:  What is the best way to get rid of fleas if a dog gets them?

Dr. K:  Most fleas can be eliminated with oral or topical preparations recommended for monthly use. Three months is usually the minimum length of treatment time to completely break the life cycle and eliminate the infestation. In some cases, treatment of the environment is also necessary. Always consult a professional for more detailed information on your particular situation.

Thanks, Dr. Kircher, for making us all a little smarter when it comes to the health of our pups. We appreciate your time and expertise.