Tag Archives: fleas

Flea Prevention 101


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Did you know there are more than 2,200 types of fleas? And any of those thousands of flea species can wreak havoc on your pup’s fur and skin. While it’s unlikely your dog will never come in contact with flea parasites during his lifespan (especially if you both enjoy spending time outdoors in the Spring and Summer), there are many proven flea prevention methods to keep your dog healthy in those flea-prone months. As always, before choosing the best treatment plan for your pup, consult with your vet.

Spot-On Medications
Topical medications from brands such as Advantage and Frontline are applied directly to your pup’s skin, typically through a drop administration on the neck. The drops work by a process of translocation, meaning the medication spreads itself all over the body through the dog’s oil glands. These medications will kill and repel fleas for several weeks before reapplication is needed and may also interrupt the flea life cycle if already in progress. Another plus? The medication is “waterproof” meaning bathing, swimming and rain do not affect the medication’s potency. A downside of these medications is that they can make your dog’s fur sticky and greasy and it’s suggested humans refrain from touching the dog for a certain amount of time after application.

Oral Medications
If your pooch comes down with a serious flea infestation, the vet may prescribe an oral medication along with a spot-on treatment. These pills are typically taken once a month in small tablet form and disrupt the life cycle of fleas, but do not kill adult fleas on contact. The positives of oral medication include easy and safe administration (the pills can be hidden in food) and you don’t have to worry about the messiness of the topical ointments.

Flea Shampoos
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An inexpensive, albeit time-consuming method of flea prevention is to bathe your dog with a special medicated shampoo that kills fleas and/or ticks on contact. While somewhat easy to do at home, the downside of a flea bath is that the ingredients in flea-specific shampoos are typically not strong enough to be as effective as the spot-on or oral medications. You’ll likely need to repeat the shampoo bath often (approximately every two weeks) for optimal protection.

Flea Collars
Certain collars on the market are designed to repel and kill fleas by either emitting a gas that repels the pests or releasing a spot-on medication that seeps into the skin and then spreads through your dog’s natural skin oils. However, flea collar effectiveness can depend on several factors including the correct application of the collar. With a collar treatment, you run the risk of your dog chewing or excessively scratching it from discomfort so make sure when choosing one, it’s the right size for your pet.

Flea Dips
Flea dips contain concentrated chemicals which need to be diluted in water and then applied to a dog’s fur with either a sponge or poured directly over the back. Unlike a shampoo bath, you will not rinse your dog off after applying this product. These dips can be very potent, so take care in reading the instructions carefully before use to prevent toxic reactions in both your dog and the person handling him. These dips cannot be used on animals of a certain age (typically 4 months or less) so check with your vet before purchasing.

Powders or Sprays
These products found in any pet supply store are inexpensive ways of repelling fleas; however, use extreme caution in application as sprays and powders can be toxic or irritating to both dogs and humans if ingested or breathed in through the eyes, nose or mouth. These products are also typically much less effective than the recommended spot-on treatments and need to be reapplied frequently.

Clean Your Home
If your dog gets fleas, no matter how serious or mild the infestation, it’s imperative to have your house thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis until your dog no longer presents any sign of fleas. Your goal is to not only remove adult fleas, but also to remove all opportunities for flea eggs and larvae to live and eventually hatch in your home. At any given time, about 57% of the fleas in someone’s home are in the larval stage. Vacuum all flooring (carpet and hardwood) including the baseboards and then toss all vacuum bags, wash all dog bedding and toys with soapy warm water, launder any clothing or bedding your dog may have come into contact with, and be sure to clean any other places your dog frequents such as the car.

Household Sprays
To further treat your home after a thorough cleaning, you may use sprays or foggers sold at pet supply stores or your vet office to increase chances of killing off adult fleas and larvae/eggs as they hatch. The same careful attention should go towards using these products as with any potentially toxic chemicals. If you’re still concerned about infestation, it may be worth calling a professional exterminator to spray the house properly.

Flea Traps
Your local hardware store sells ready-made “flea traps,” which consist of sticky pads that are laid on the floor, where fleas will get caught while jumping around. This may eliminate adult fleas, but not eggs or larvae. Make your own light trap by setting a small dish of soapy water on the ground near a light at night. Fleas are attracted to warmth and light, so they will jump in the water and drown.

Clear Your Yard
Keep your lawn, bushes, and trees trimmed low to reduce flea population in your back and front yards and prevent fleas from jumping onto your dog. Consider yard sprays or granular treatments available from the pet supply store, vet or garden center. Hiring a professional pest control service to spray outdoors is not a bad idea either, especially during flea season.

“Natural” Methods
Unfortunately, ultrasonic devices, garlics, and brewer’s yeast have all been proven ineffective against these malicious pests. So, you may be left with no choice other than using chemicals to eliminate fleas. Do know that while these chemical flea treatments are safe when used properly, they are still pesticides and must be used with extreme care.

Dangers During the Dog Days Of Summer


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Summertime and the living’s easy…unless you’re a pup! While hot weather can mean refreshing swims and beach walks for Fido, the season can also bring dangerous temperatures that can cause serious health issues such as overheating and sunburns. We’ve outlined some common summer hazards to be aware of during these hot months to keep your pooch safe and risk-free.

Open Water
While some dogs are natural-born swimmers, others are not. To avoid the risk of injury or drowning, keep your water-averse dog away from pools and lakes where he could fall in, as well as the ocean (a high tide or rough waters can easily sweep a small dog under the current). If you’re bringing your dog on a boat, make sure you have a life preserver ready for him, just as you would with a small child.

Fireworks
While nothing says 4th of July quite like fireworks, your dog may feel otherwise. Dogs are often sensitive to loud noises and could run off in fear or act out in aggression upon hearing the pops, cracks and booms that come with the popular Independence Day tradition.

Heat
Just as humans can suffer heatstroke, dogs can be just as, if not more vulnerable to overheating and dehydration. To avoid overheating, limit walks and outdoor play to cooler times of the day (sunrise or sunset), provide adequate shade or a cool place to rest indoors, offer plenty of fresh water and never ever leave your dog alone in a hot car. Lastly, be aware of your dog’s temperament – while panting and drooling alone can be normal behaviors, if these symptoms are paired with pale gums, hyperventilation, rapid pulse, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, or rectal bleeding, contact your vet immediately.

Fleas, Ticks and Bees
summer-hazards-thumbnailThe warm summer months unfortunately bring out annoying insects such as fleas and ticks, which love to attach on and bite your four-legged friend. Make sure to protect your pup (and your family and home) by applying medicated flea/tick ointment to Fido on a regular basis. If your pup does come down with either of these critters, it’s imperative to do a deep clean and take necessary measures to prevent the transmission of disease and other parasites. If your dog gets stung by a bee, you’ll want to remove the stinger immediately (if you can find it) and then make an emergency trip to the vet for monitoring and/or treatment of an allergic reaction.

Allergies
Warm weather can also bring new pollen grains and other allergens into your dog’s environment. Seasonal allergies often cause intense itchiness in dogs, which can lead to hot spots, infections, wounds and hair loss from scratching too much. Talk to your vet about the best treatment options for your dog – depending on breed and severity of the symptoms, management could include oral steroid medication, specialty shampoos or ointments, or even immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Toxic Chemicals
Certain products used more frequently during the summer months such as insect repellent, fertilizer, weed control, pool chemicals, or ant bait can contain dangerous chemicals that can pose a poison threat to your dog. Check the ingredients in all products before use, or ask your gardener or pool servicer for more information. If your dog accidentally ingests poison, call the Animal Poison Control Center hotline, available 24 hours, 7 days a week: (888) 426-4435.

More Than a Hair Cut, Grooming is Health Necessity


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Many dog owners consider grooming their pooch a luxury or vanity service, rather than a health need. Yet, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s crucial to change this perception as grooming is a necessary in taking care of not just your dog’s look, but also his health and well-being. And so, we’re here to educate dog owners on the following health benefits of regular grooming.

Ear Mites and Ear Infections
Most groomers will closely check your dog’s ears, which are breeding grounds for bacteria, and be able to spot infections or mites, which may otherwise be invisible to the untrained eye of the average dog owner. If infection or mites are found, the groomer may recommend over the counter treatment, or depending on the severity, recommend you see a veterinarian for a prescription.

Fleas, Ticks or Parasites
A professional groomer will check your dog’s body for ticks, fleas and other parasites, which should then be removed meticulously by the groomer. Fleas are typically found while your dog is being bathed in the tub and with a thorough shampoo, most if not all fleas will die in the water.  If the groomer finds ticks however, they are typically removed during the high velocity drying process by splitting the dog’s hair line by line, removing the dead coat and drying the skin row by row. If your groomer finds worms, you’ll be referred to a vet for a checkup. You may want to ask your groomer if they “fluff dry” or “brush dry” to confirm they use either of these thorough techniques.

Abnormal Skin Growths
It’s a good idea to remind your groomer, who is familiar with dog anatomy, to check for skin abnormalities during the grooming process. Because they’re spending a great deal of time on your pup’s hair, skin and body, this is an appropriate time for them to notice any bumps, lumps or abscesses. If these symptoms are identified in the early stages, you can treat your dog before the condition worsens or a serious illness develops.

Nails, Teeth and Sanitary Area
A typical professional dog grooming packaging doesn’t just include a bath and a trim, but also maintenance of other important hygiene areas such as paws, mouth and buttocks. Nail trimming prevents blood vessels from growing too long inside the nail, which could cause problems as your dog gets older. Not to mention, the sound of long nails scratching the floor or furniture can be reason enough alone to get them trimmed regularly! It’s also important for your groomer to trim hair that grows in between the toes, as sometimes burs and tar can get stuck, penetrate the skin and become infected. Regular teeth brushing can also be performed by your groomer, which can help prevent dental disease and bad breath. Lastly, trimming around the sanitary area removes excess hair that’s more prone to hosting bacteria and carrying feces. If your dog is in need of external anal gland expression due to inflammation, allergies, infection, or abnormal stool, your groomer may be able to handle as well. If it’s a larger problem that requires internal expression, you should be referred over to your vet.

Matting
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Some breeds with longer hair are prone to matting (also known as knotted balls of hair), especially in hard to detangle areas like the face, neck and ears. Besides looking a bit rough around the edges, mats can be painful because they pull the skin tight and can lead to skin ulcers, abrasions and other problems. Sometimes a mat can be cut out with scissors, but other times they require a complete shave down. The good news is that with a regular grooming schedule, mats can easily be prevented.