No Fleas! Please!

Spring has sprung according to the calendar, though in some parts of our country it is hard to believe it.

With the arrival of spring we can look forward to the arrival of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. These three types of critters can be detrimental not only for our dogs and cats, but can create an annoyance for us humans.

Fleas can cause skin allergies, anemia and can transmit tapeworms.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases.

Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms and West Nile virus.

It is never too soon to put the preventative work in progress.

Where do you start?

The first place is with the pet be it a cat or dog. The market place has many spot on and oral flea preventatives that work extremely well.

If you do not feel comfortable with the monthly preventatives, there are dips, flea collars, sprays and shampoos on the market, also. These however, require much more diligence on your part.

It is a good idea to check with your vet, if you are in doubt about what product to use on your pet.

In addition to a flea preventative, it is a good idea to groom and bath your pet regularly and to check to see if there are “pepper” looking spots lurking inside the fur. If there are, dabbing the spots with a bit of water should turn some of the specks into red blood and that is a warning the fleas are present.

A flea comb will work wonders, if you have the time and patience to sit and comb through your pet’s fur. If you use a flea comb, pull it through in the direction of the fur and have a bowl of soapy water near by to dip the comb into to kill the fleas. It is a good idea to keep some paper towels handy to wipe the comb.

Adding garlic to your dog’s diet may help too, mixing garlic tablets, powder, or cloves into your pet’s food has been known to help, along with brewer’s yeast. The amount you use would depend on the size of your dog, ask your vet or pet health care provider for advice. Over feeding garlic can cause anemia in some dogs.

Did you know a normal flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day and fully formed fleas can hibernate in a cocoon for up to one year, so it is a never ending battle?

It seems that fleas love living in the carpet or between the couch cushions so the house also has to be a target for defense.

So how do you handle the household?

Vacuuming, vacuuming and vacuuming some more seems to be one of the best answers. Once you vacuum toss out the bag or empty it into something you can toss and get it out of the house. A great idea is to put a flea collar inside the bag, if possible as an added gun.

Keep your pet’s bedding clean, launder in hot soapy water frequently.

Use flea sprays in areas like the garage, basement or other areas where you pet likes to lie.

Indoor foggers work for large areas. However, they should be used every ten days until the fleas have truly gone and after each use “vacuum.”

Now if that is not enough for you to do, the next thing is the yard.

There are many commercial companies that will come and spray your yard for fleas on a regular basis. It may seem expensive, but if you have a large yard it is worth the expense as it really works.

Another idea is to spread diatomaceous earth, which is a non-toxic powder on your lawn and garden areas. Wet the grass and garden before using. This is a natural powder made from fossilized marine life that dehydrates the flea.

Some people also incorporate “nematodes” into the yard to eat the flea larvae. A nematode is a small microscopic worm, which I suspect you can find at a very good garden supply or farm store.

Fighting ticks is another battle, but not nearly as hard as the battle of the fleas.

Ticks like to live in the brush and tall grass and lie in wait for you or your pet to come by.

Some ticks can lay up to 8,000 eggs depending on the species and there are several different kinds of ticks.

Some flea products have a tick preventative in them and tick collars can be purchased. The best preventative is to stay out of high grassy and wooded areas that are damp. Ticks do not jump, but lie in wait to attach themselves to you or your pet.

If you live in an area prone to having ticks, it is recommended that you examine your pet nightly and check for ticks.

Use a pair of tweezers and pull them straight out. Do not use a cigarette to try and burn them off your pet.

In your yard or area surrounding your home, it is best if you keep the grass and brush cut way back. Do not allow your pet to roam free in wooded areas unless you are ready to become a “tick puller.”

Mosquitoes can and do cause pets to get heartworms. The best preventative is to have your pet on a heartworm preventative at an early age.

Heartworms can be treated, but the treatment a dog has to undergo can be fatal to the dog. It is not a pretty sight to watch your pet fight to get better once the heartworms have taken over.

Mosquitoes also carry the West Nile virus, which can affect a dog, however The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that dogs do not develop enough of the virus in their blood stream to infect other mosquitoes or other animals.

Remove all free standing water from birdbaths, flowerpots and other things that can hold water as the mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water.

Keeping your dog in at dusk, at night and at dawn will prevent your pet from getting bitten by this pest.

Heat and humidity can make the flea, tick and mosquito season worse, so keep your pets in as much as possible.

There are many great products out in the market place, each one has its own set of instructions, read them carefully.

Talk to your veterinarian or your pet’s holistic care giver before trying any new treatment.

Enjoy the spring and summer season and practice proper pet care