By: Bridget Baggett of UnleashMagazine.com
Being a dog in the 21st century isn’t such a bad thing anymore. As recently as a decade ago, flea and tick prevention bordered on archaic. Horrible flea collars that made Fido’s hair fall out, sprays that made both you and him cough and sneeze, God-awful shampoos that sent him running under your bed, leaving a sudsy trail of bubbles all over your home.
Well, welcome to the future – those days are long gone. Today’s options offer your pet flea, tick and internal parasite control. That is a serious improvement for man’s best friend. However, it’s very important you educate yourself before choosing a method of prevention and defense.
Fleas and ticks are tiny insects that attach themselves to the pet’s body and feed on their blood. They also can transmit several diseases and cause conditions like tapeworm infections, flea allergy dermatitis, tularemia and anemia. Because these conditions can cause the pet a lot of discomfort, it’s important to keep them at bay.
An effective way to prevent the infestation of parasites in and around your home is by using pesticides. They are readily available for use by the homeowner, or a professional pest control expert can apply them. Limited applications during the summer and springtime can greatly reduce flea and tick populations.
While most lawn care pesticides are EPA approved, they can have various side effects on the endocrine, nervous and immune system if ingested or inhaled. To protect children and pets, keep them away from the treated area, making sure the lawn is dry before allowing anyone to access it. Before spraying, remove children’s toys, pet toys, feeding bowls and bedding.
There are several indications that you may have a flea and tick infestation on your hands.
They can hide in a forest of pet hairs, especially on long-coated or double-coated dogs, and can zig-zag among and between hair shafts. Don’t depend on seeing the insect. Instead, look for clues like excessive biting and scratching at the skin that may cause legions or red inflamed lumps. Because this a high traffic area for parasites, observe your pet to see if he bites at his rear end especially around his tail or the inside and outside of his thighs.
Also, look for what is called “flea dirt,” which looks like sprinkled pepper. This is actually flea faeces – more precisely, digested blood from your dog. A good way of determining this is dropping some of this “pepper” onto a damp paper towel. If it turns reddish, it’s fleas, not seasoning.
To determine if you’ve been bitten, first examine your skin. Flea bites leave tiny red raised bumps over the skin that tend to itch. These bumps can get larger if one suffers from allergies. Ticks can be hard to detect. Usually you wont feel a tick bite as it occurs, and if it goes undetected the tick will usually satiate itself and drop off on its own. The most sensible course of action for a tick bite is to remove it and have it tested for presence of disease.
Certain ticks can transmit diseases to humans, which require antibiotic treatment. Most well known of these is Lyme disease, carried by ticks that are most often found on deer.
Prevention is key. Keep your house and its surroundings clean. Remove leaves, clear brush and tall grass around the house and kennel area. Wash and disinfect all pet bedding inside your home. Vacuum and steam clean your carpets regularly so flea larvae is completely eliminated. You should also dispose of vacuumed dirt in an appropriate manner so that the house remains parasite free.
After walking your dog, comb his fur with a flea comb and look for any signs of infection. Also, make sure your dog is contained in an area that has been previously treated and is rid of parasites.
Monthly topicals, such as Frontline Plus are also recommended to protect your pet. Frontline Plus is a flea and tick preventative for dogs and cats. It kills 100% of adult fleas on your pet within 18 hours and 100% of all ticks within 48 hours. It is applied in a single area, usually between the shoulder blades, and then uses the body’s natural oils to spread evenly over the pet. Not only has it been proven to be effective against all life stages and several species of tick, but it is also waterproof!
While fleas and ticks are prevalent in warmer months, they can be a year-round problem if you’re not careful. For more suggestions and alternative ways to control these pests, check out the recommendations over at Doctors Foster and Smith!
For more great articles on dogs (and celebrities who own them), go to UnleashMagazine.com!