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Ants, Mites, Flies, and Ticks


Filed in Dogs, Sanitation

Although fleas are the number one enemy of dogs, there are several pests that are formidable foes to dogs as well. Ants, sarcoptic mites, flies, and ticks can be a major pain in the neck for dogs and their owners. Fortunately there are ways to alleviate these potential health challenges.


At face value ants might seem like an insignificant threat to dogs. However, ants are unclean, carry disease, and they even bite.

Most problems with ants occur in or around a dog's feeding area. Although there are many ant-killers on the market, some are known to contain chemicals that may be harmful to your pet. Thankfully there are alternative ways to get rid of ants.

One method is called "moating." Simply fill a large bowl with water, and float your dog's feeder inside of it. The result? The ants can't swim to the food. Another method is to spray non-toxic, liquid teflon along the rim of your dog's bowl, thus making the surface too slippery for ants to climb. Finally, another effective method is to keep your dog food in storage bins. Bins are a nice alternative because they stop the problem of ants before it even begins.


In addition to being a pest to humans, flies are a nuisance to dogs. The main concern is something called "fly strike." This is when a fly lands on a dog's nose, ear, or tail, and bites>. The result is usually either a crusty, scaly, or oozy substance. Fortunately there are a number of fly repellents on the market. And for some reason unknown to science, flies seem to be attracted to lighter colored dogs.

Sarcoptic Mites

Sarcoptic mites are tiny cigar-shaped insects which burrow into dogs' hair follicles. The most obvious sign that your dog has sarcoptic mites is a sudden, unexplained hair loss. Such hair loss is usually accompanied by small, reddish scarring around the bald spots. These mites are typical in puppies two to six months old, or in dogs that have been malnourished. There are some dips on the market that can treat this problem, but if it persists you should take your dog to see the vet.


Perhaps the nastiest of all micro-sized dog predators are ticks. Ticks are nasty little creatures that can cause lyme disease if left untreated for 48 hours. There are several ways to treat this problem such as vaccinations, over-the-counter remedies, and tick collars.

Tick season lasts from spring through autumn. They are usually found in wooded areas, so if you take your dog for a hike be sure to examine your dog later on.

If you do find a tick, remove it properly. There are numerous myths that you should burn it off with a match or take it out counter-clockwise (or is it clockwise?). There are several professional tick removal products currently on the market. They do the job without putting your dog's health at risk. If you try to take a tick out via the "urban legend" method, you may leave the tick's head behind, which can create a slow-healing sore.

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