Spring is Invasion Time

A tiny black speck appears on your arm; a brand new mole, you surmise.

“But moles don’t move, and moles don’t hop,” you cry in surprise.

You feel a prick on your neck, and suddenly, on your nose, appears another black speck!

Spring is a wonderful time of year, and it is especially welcome after the tough winter we have had. However, in the dog world, it’s also invasion time. With temperatures warming, conditions are just right for an unwelcome invasion of fleas and ticks. Fleas are nasty little creatures that can travel rapidly through animal hair and are extremely tough to pick off your dog. They can also hop onto humans!

Although they do not have teeth, they have piercing mouthparts that cut into the skin of their victim, and suck blood. One flea can consume up to 15 times its own body weight in a single day, and then when it takes a rest from drinking blood, as it pulls out of the animal, it leaves a bit of its own saliva behind, which is what makes flea bites itch. Fleas are more than just an irritation!

If a flea swallowed by your pet contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and there are also other diseases, which are transmitted by fleas. The average life span of a flea is about six weeks, and during that time, one female flea can produce more than 600 eggs. That means that just one flea can produce enough eggs to create a huge problem, and if you see one flea, you can be sure there are MANY more present.

The smart thing to do is to treat your animals BEFORE just one tiny critter is found. Once the pet is infected, the problem automatically extends to the home and the yard, and is more difficult (and expensive) to treat. There are many safe, relatively inexpensive products that will eliminate flea and tick problems. Talk to your vet about which product is best for your specific situation.

We discourage the use of flea collars, which may kill the fleas in the neck area, but the rest of the body may still have fleas. We are also uncomfortable with the thought of children touching and breathing the chemicals in flea collars. Our choice is spot-on products that can simply be applied at the base of the neck, and then are absorbed and transported in the oil glands. These liquid treatments will kill the fleas on the animal within 12 hours and he will be infestation- free for a month. With consistent application, your pet will be protected.

Be aware, however, that there are some differences in available products. Some of the cheaper ones are, in my opinion, dangerous. Others are simply not effective. Your vet can help you select the best option, but don’t wait until you are faced with a flea invasion. Act now. PREVENTION IS THE ANSWER!

Fleas Deserve Destruction Not Songs

“A king there was once reigning, who had a goodly flea…he loved him without feigning as his own son were he; hIs tailor then he summoned…the tailor to him goes. Now measure me the youngster for jerkin and for hose. In satin and in velvet behold this young one dressed…bedizen’d o’er with ribbons, a cross upon his breast. Prime minister they made him; he wore a star of state and all his poor relations were courtiers, rich and great. The gentlemen and ladies at court were sore distressed; the queen and all her maidens were bitten by the pest, and yet they dared not scratch them, or chase the fleas away.”

The Flea Song is part of the scene in Faust 1, first published around 1790. The song is about a king who loved a flea on which he lavished many riches. He is fitted with fine clothing and made Head of State, and his family members were awarded high positions in the government. Members of the King’s court dared not speak up and complain; instead they had to cope with the biting and itching.

We may consider the description of a King being fond of a flea quite strange, but it is important to keep in mind that in late l8th Century, society viewed parasites such as fleas, lice, ticks, and bedbugs more favorably, merely as nuisances, and this view did not really change until the mid 19th Century. In other words, a poem or song about a highly regarded flea was not as strange in 1760 as it may seem now. Around the time that Goethe wrote the Flea Song, watchmakers tried to harness fleas, with tiny gold wires, to demonstrate their skills in fine manipulation. In other parts of the world people also dressed up fleas, not acknowledging that fleas deserve destruction, not songs!

The late l8th Century was the start of the flea circus mania in Europe. Fleas would be caught and rigged up in harnesses made of thin gold wires. The fascination with these blood-suckers dwindled quickly when it was discovered that fleas vectored the bacterium that caused the plague. In the Flea Song, Goethe mentions that the people at the King’s court are getting bit and that the bites start to itch. This is a very good description. They puncture the skin, opening up blood vessels, and then suck up the blood by creating a tube with their mouth-parts. These days fleas are unpopular for good reason.

Fleas are certainly not appreciated either by today’s humans or today’s canines, and the disgusting statistic is that one female flea can lay 50 eggs a day, or a couple thousand during her lifetime, and for every single flea actually found on your dog, there are many, many more lurking on your pet, in your yard, and even in your house.

Flea bites equal misery for your dog, and they can also cause a variety of other problems, including flea allergy dermatitis, anemia in severe cases, and they can carry tapeworms. Fleas and itching go together, and if your dog is itching, you need to check immediately. One of the best tools to confirm whether or not there are fleas is a flea comb. Start at the head and move toward the tail. The most common areas where fleas are found are the neck and the rear end, so check those areas carefully. A flea comb’s main purpose is to confirm whether or not there are fleas, and if you find even one flea, it is time to talk to your vet about a preventative to make those fleas flee. Do not wait until the dog has a major flea infestation.

There are many preventative products available to combat fleas, and some of them are good, some of them are not- so- good, and some of them may be downright toxic. Please DO NOT buy over the counter products. Consult with your veterinarian who is qualified to explain your options, and work with your own dog’s health history.

Itch….itch….scratch….scratch….must be a flea……or two….or three….probably more. Those nasty critters multiply, multiply, multiply….and they latch on tight….Soon gross little bugs will run all over him….it will seem like millions, and zillions….Be prepared.

 

Fall has Arrived

It’s official… fall has arrived, and after an unusually hot, dry summer, most of us welcome a break from the heat, and enjoy the changing season. However fall is a time of many potential dangers for our four-footed companions. Our dogs may show signs of health problems, and just like humans, mild illnesses may resolve on their own, but we need to be alert to signals of health problems and act appropriately BEFORE the illness spirals out of control.

It is important to remember that fall is party time for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes! When these pesky critters appear in the spring, responsible pet caregivers immediately begin to use pest protection programs for their animals, but many feel that once the weather has had a few cold days, the flea problem disappears. The fact is that fleas are more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year.

Throughout the summer, the flea population has increased, and as the weather cools down, they instinctively seek out warm places to survive and lay eggs. Unless flea preventatives are used well into the winter, problems associated with flea infestations including flea-bite dermatitis and possibly tapeworms may develop.

Ticks have been abundant this summer, and they are still alive and well! These pests are tough and can hibernate and survive very cold weather. Then there are mosquitoes which are more than just inconveniences, as they pose serious health risks! Unlike fleas and ticks that live on your dog, mosquitoes drop by for a quick meal, and then are gone, but they have the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm.

We encourage pet caregivers to be diligent in the consistent use of vet approved flea, tick and heartworm prevention products. It is easier to expend a little extra energy, time, and money to prevent these problems than it is to treat them!

Fall provides some of the best walking weather. Most animal caregivers underestimate their dogs’ exercise needs, but with this beautiful Fall weather outside. Grab a leash and a friend and hit the sidewalks or trails with your furbaby.

Remember that destructive behavior may lead to a diagnosis of separation anxiety or other behavioral problems, and while these conditions do exist, in many cases the behavior is actually the result of an energy surplus. According to animal trainer, Jenna Stregowski, before you blame your dog for inappropriate behavior, ask yourself if she is getting enough exercise. Many dogs need at least one or two hours of exercise EVERY day, and with everyone’s hectic lifestyle, most are lucky to get fifteen minutes. Because dogs cannot talk, we must rely on the signs that they give us when it comes to analyzing our dog’s health.

So get out there and get walking!