Fleas and Ticks

Because of the shepherd's thick double coat, it can be difficult to spot a few fleas or ticks, even if you are brushing your dog on a regular basis. Fleas will multiply until they begin to leave telltale flea dirt, which is flea excrement. By the time you spot this, you'll likely be dealing with a sizeable infestation. The fleas will have dropped their eggs throughout your home and in the dog's bed.

Signs that your shepherd may have fleas are itching, scratching, and rubbing. The German shepherd is a breed that is more likely to have allergic reactions to fleabites than many other breeds. All it takes is one bite to cause a puppy or dog with this allergy to suffer from inflammation; red, raw skin; open lesions; uncomfortable itching; and chronic ear infections. Even if your shepherd isn't allergic, fleas carry several different infectious diseases, as well as the infectious larval stage of various parasitic worms.

Ticks are not any better. Lyme disease is just one of the diseases carried by ticks. The sites of tick bites can become infected and can also cause unpleasant skin reactions in the shepherd. Ticks are especially hard to locate, due to their minute size, and they burrow into the skin, making them even more difficult to spot.

The flea and tick repellent, Frontline Top Spot, contains fipronil. In a recent study, fipronil showed effectiveness in preventing a tick carrying Lyme disease from infecting the canine host. This product could possibly make vaccinations for Lyme disease obsolete.

Fortunately, fleas and ticks do not have to be a problem. You no longer have to go through your shepherd's coat with a flea comb from spring to fall (year-round in warmer climates), use chemical flea dips and dusting powders, or purchase flea collars. And you won't have to continually check favorite tick locations (tails, ears, and other areas where the blood supply is close to the skin's surface) to pick off these parasites by hand.

Your veterinarian can prescribe oral products that repel fleas and ticks, or topical solutions that are applied to the dog's skin, which kill fleas and ticks before they can transmit diseases. If applied according to the manufacturers' directions, it is possible for your shepherd to go through a whole summer without a single bite from a flea or tick.

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