Keep Your Dog and Your Home Flea-Free!

Keep Your Dog and Your Home

Modern Dog - - CONTENTS -

Fleas are the bane of many a dog and many a dog owner. Dogs can eas­ily pick up fleas out­side and a few fleas can quickly lead to an in­fes­ta­tion, caus­ing both you and your dog se­ri­ous dis­com­fort and even ill­ness. Signs your dog has fleas in­clude black specs in his fur (that would be flea dirt), white specs in his fur (those would be flea eggs—ack!), and scratch­ing and nip­ping, par­tic­u­larly at the base of the tail. Get a fine-toothed flea comb and comb your dog, con­cen­trat­ing at the neck and tail base, look­ing through the de­bris the comb col­lects. The comb may also cap­ture fleas them­selves—they’re fast mov­ing and tiny, like the head of a pin. Drown any fleas you col­lect in soapy wa­ter. Also take a look at your dog’s tummy— less fur makes it eas­ier to see fleas. Lest you think fleas are just ir­ri­tat­ing, think again—fleas are the most com­mon cause of skin dis­ease in dogs and cats. The scratch­ing the fleas cause can lead to skin in­fec­tions. Se­ri­ous flea in­fes­ta­tions, par­tic­u­larly in pup­pies, can cause ane­mia and pose a se­ri­ous health risk. For dogs with a flea al­lergy, flea in­fes­ta­tions are par­tic­u­larly un­com­fort­able. Signs your dog has a flea al­lergy in­clude in­tense itch­ing, hair loss, and hot spots or red, in­flamed or scabby skin. Though not their first choice, fleas like hu­man blood too and they can jump from your dog’s fur or bed­ding onto your skin and your fur­ni­ture. Like dogs, some peo­ple are al­ler­gic to fleabites. If your bites are in­tensely itchy, this is likely you. For an idea of how quickly the prob­lem can grow, con­sider this: Fe­male fleas can lay 40 to 50 eggs a day, which can lead to an in­fes­ta­tion in days. For ev­ery flea you see on your dog, vets es­ti­mate there are 100 more in your house. Fur­ther­more, eggs can fall off your dog and hatch any­where—car­pets, pet beds, and couches you share with your pets are flea favourites. The fleas then feed on you and your pet and the cy­cle con­tin­ues. The first step in deal­ing with a flea in­fes­ta­tion is to de-flea your dog, whether through a spot-on treat­ment, a sham­poo (most have to be kept on for 10 min­utes be­fore rins­ing—be sure to read the in­struc­tions) or an all-nat­u­ral ap­proach like Dr. Do­bias Flea Hex. The next step is to deal with your house and your yard. Wash all pet bed­ding in hot wa­ter. Wash any wash­able couch cush­ions and vac­uum what you can’t wash. Vac­uum all car­pets with a ro­tary or beater bar and im­me­di­ately empty can­is­ter/seal bag and take out­side to the garbage. Mop all floors. Re­peat weekly. Now for the yard: mow the lawn, trim shrubs, and rake the leaves to make it as un­wel­com­ing as pos­si­ble for fleas and ticks. They thrive in the un­tended ar­eas. (Note that the brown dog tick can also live and re­pro­duce in­side your home. Check its favourite hid­ing spots—cracks, cur­tains, un­der rugs, be­neath fur­ni­ture, and be­hind ra­di­a­tors.) Use a flea comb to check your dog weekly so you can take care of any fleas be­fore it be­comes a big­ger prob­lem. Ticks carry se­ri­ous dis­ease and need to be re­moved right away. For five steps to safely re­move a tick, go to

SIGNS OF TICK-BORNE DIS­EASES

Lyme dis­ease, Rocky Moun­tain spot­ted fever, and ehrli­chio­sis all cause sim­i­lar symp­toms in dogs, in­clud­ing: • Loss of ap­petite • Swollen lymph nodes • Fever • Joint swelling or pain Ticks can also cause paral­y­sis. Some ticks pro­duce a toxin that will make the host’s mus­cles weak. Most dogs re­cover quickly once the tick is re­moved.

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