Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My! – Part 2

Last week we took a look at the “Mosquitoes” portion of the summer pestification of pets  (go here for Part 1).  We also promised an outline of Wood Ticks and Fleas and what to do about them.  There’s a bonus for you, too.  So here we go.

Do Wood Ticks Tick You Off?

American dog tick - most common in NA. Photo credit: ©

American dog tick – most common in NA. Photo credit: ©

Now we come to the little beggar who probably causes nearly as many intimate moments between spouses who hike as the Kinsey Report or the Kama Sutra. That’s the common wood tick. You might recoil in shock at my words with, “How do you figure that?!” Well, what do prudent hikers and campers do after…uh…hiking and camping? They search each other thoroughly for ticks, right? And, uh…in the process…uh, okay, to continue on to your pets’ risk here, it’s high, because when dogs go outside, they will run through brush or even just lie on the grass, steeping in the solstice sunshine.

ANYHOW, this is a problem because if they are scratching and biting at the spot, you don’t really know which one of the terrible three it is. I suggest you check. If there is a flat dark brown lump that looks like a funny mole, you have found yourself a greedy tick. If left alone, the tick will continue to feed on the host’s blood until it becomes gorged. I have seen ticks grow to a huge size and turn a sort of greyish colour. There are dozens of versions of how to take a tick off a dog (or yourself for that matter) safely, and I’m not going to go into them here. I suggest you google them and see which works best; or better still, ask your vet.

A few ways to help keep ticks away:

  • Keep your lawn mowed;
  • Clear any dead brush from under bushes and other places around your property;
  • Remove or drain any standing water on your property…like water barrels, ruts, etc. If you have a bird bath or other items containing water, keep them clean, with fresh water in them


Flea microphotograph

Flea microphotograph (Photo credit: National Media Museum)

My Dog Has Fleas

This familiar little ditty is funny when you are tuning a ukulele, but not so funny when it is acted out in real life before your eyes.  Fleas are dirty, biting, itchy, external parasites that not only make your pet pretty uncomfortable, but can cause messy rashes due to allergic reactions to flea saliva, as well as scratching injuries, infection, and transmission of various diseases, up to and including the bubonic plague.  The latter, of course, is rare and generally comes from rat fleas, but this is not to say that at a flea social, the dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and the rat fleas (Nosopsyllus fasciatus) might get to schmoozing.

I’m not aware that fleas are a big problem in our area (southeastern Saskatchewan).  However, if you do find that your pet has fleas, don’t let them (the fleas, that is) get free transportation and meals.  Use one of the solutions coming up below.

Newsflash for Canine Sun Worshippers

Did you know that your dog can get sunburnt?  Yes, indeed.  Our three little Shih Tzus are sun worshippers from the get go.  In the winter, they follow the sun patches around the living room all afternoon.  In summer, the two females, Ling Ling and Tilly Tot, love to go and lie on the lawn or the cement patio and soak up the rays.  Oreo, the male, because of his thick coat and normally higher body temperature, not so much.

Ling Ling - the Princess pose.  Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Ling Ling – basking in the sun.. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Dogs most at risk of sunburn sport white or pale-coloured fur, in addition to dogs with summer cuts, or ones who are naturally quite short-haired.  Nearly all dogs can get sunburn on the tips of their ears and nose, plus the bare or sparsely haired under parts, such as groin and belly. So to protect against sunburn and heat stroke, it makes sense to use common sense.

  • Provide lots of shade and fresh water outdoors.
  • If the pet is an outdoor dog, make sure the kennel is fully shaded.  A sun block or even awning would certain take care of that requirement.
  • Limiting your indoor dog’s outdoor time in the sun can help protect it as well.
  • You can also provide sun screen for your dog, but it is NOT recommended to use products intended for humans, as some of the ingredients in these are toxic to dogs and cats.

One rule of thumb states that, if the product is safe for a human baby, it is safe for dogs if given under supervision, i.e., soaked into the skin before letting the dog lick any of the sun screened areas.  I don’t know that I would use that for my dogs, and would definitely consult my vet before doing that.

A note of caution about cats…according to information research carried out by Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM, of Veterinary Medicine Guide, some of the common active ingredients in sunscreens break down into salicylic acid, a.k.a aspirin, which is a known toxin for cats.  My suggestion is to search the internet for information on various remedies for protecting your pets against the sun and/or consult your veterinarian.

Tilly Tot watching out car window. (Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton)

Tilly Tot watching out car window. (Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton)

A Big, Fat No-No

One thing to note, NEVER EVER EVER leave your pet in a closed car!  Even in the winter sun, It takes very little time for a car to rise to impossible temperatures causing an animal to start overheating; this leads to heat stroke and possible death.  Even with the window down a bit, it may not allow enough room for the canned air to circulate and prevent rapid heating of the interior.

Oops, so sorry, but I’ve run out of time and space for this topic.  And I really wanted to bring you all this important information.  I promise I will provide some of the solutions next week in the third and final episode of “Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My!”


What protection do you provide for your
pet to guard against sunburn?
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 (Next week watch for Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas-Oh My! – Part 3)

 Text and photos (except where otherwise
indicated) are copyright © 2013 by
Sandra Bell Kirchman. All rights reserved.
(Volume 14-5.5, May 31, 2014)

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My! – Part 3 | Puppy Dog Tales

Oreo, Tilly & Ling Ling will wag their tails if you reply :)

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