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!

Spring is Officially Here – And so are the Fleas!

We are all enjoying the longer days and the warmer spring weather.. However, in addition to the welcome showers, spring also brings some unwelcome guests that should be of concern to pet caregivers. As outside temperatures and humidity rise, the onslaught of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks begin. It is important to be conscientious about flea and tick prevention because these pests are more than itchy annoyances to your dog. Both fleas and ticks can transmit other parasites and diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and flea allergy dermatitis.

The best way to deal with fleas to prevent them! According to Dr. Michael Dryden, a leading expert on fleas, preventing flea infestation is one of the most important things pet caregivers can do for their pet. “For some reason,” asserts Dr. Dryden, “most people tend to react to fleas AFTER the fact. They seem to treat pets when they see fleas, then stop once the problem seems to be resolved.” Not a good idea. That philosophy only results in a frustrating ongoing cycle of re-infestation. We encourage responsible pet caregivers to use preventative treatment all year round! An even more serious parasite than fleas and ticks is heartworm which can seriously damage your dog’s heart. Spread by the bite of a mosquito, adult heartworms settle inside the heart and lungs, and slowly strangle these organs until they cease to function properly.

Many over-the-counter flea, tick and mosquito control products can be purchased at pet stores and on the internet. However, all products are NOT equal. If they are misused, they can sicken or even kill your pet. We urge you to talk with your veterinarian about the best preventative treatment for your four-legged companion. Parasites are a medical problem and it is wiser to spend a little time, energy and money preventing a medical problem rather than playing catch up to cure an existing one!

With the continual pet food recalls, more pet caregivers are making homemade food for their furbabies. The TLC has a Canine Recipe Book and a favorite recipe is Poultry Loaf. Served on top of their dry food, dogs snarf it down with intense concentration. For those of you who don’t have the TLC Canine Cookbook, here’s the recipe for Poultry Loaf (and if you would like a copy the cook book, just contact us):

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • ½ cup chopped carrots.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Put into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour( or until done) Crumble into pieces and serve over dry dog food. Freeze in small portions for later use.

Ticks are BAD News

Warm weather means tick season, when those tenacious little vampires get warm and hungry and start looking for a good meal. Huge numbers of tick eggs hatch every spring and the young ticks climb onto vegetation. They creep up tall grass, weeds, fences (or even walls of your house) and wait until a passing shadow, an odor, or a vibration tells them that a possible host might be passing by. Then they let go of their perch and fall, or reach out with their front legs to latch onto a furry coat (or your pants leg). Once on-board, they insert their mouths into their prey, and begin their meal…. Disgusting, but ticks are more than nuisances…they are dangerous. When ticks bite wild animals, they take in the bacteria these animals may harbor, and can transmit them along to their next host, meaning that any microorganisms that were hitching a ride inside the tick are passed on to your dog through the tick’s mouth. Some bacteria can cause diseases in dogs (and in people) –dangerous, debilitating, and sometimes even fatal diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Obviously keeping kicks off your dog in the first place is better than having to pull them off, but despite your best efforts, dogs (especially the outdoorsy ones) are likely to occasionally get a tick. You can discourage tick attacks by keeping grass trimmed, and woodpiles and brush away from the area where your dog spends time. If ticks don’t have good, sheltered spots to hang out and wait for a warm host, they may move on to somewhere tick-friendlier.

Talk to your veterinarian about a preventative that is safe for your dog and most effective against the ticks common to your area. Do NOT buy over-the-counter products… many are ineffective, and some are downright toxic. Your vet will consider age, size, health, and other factors to determine the best medication.

After any outdoor activity, do a tick check as soon as you get indoors. Work through your dog’s coat with a flea comb and carefully rub your hands over his complete body to look and feel all over for suspicious bumps and creepy crawlies. When ticks are engorged with blood, they are visibly swollen and purplish, but unfed ticks will resemble tiny brown scabs and are easy to miss. Newly attached ticks are easy to overlook, so examine your dog closely, paying special attention to the paws, face, ears (both inside and out), mouth area, and genitals—although ticks can attach anywhere. If you see a tick, don’t panic or make any assumptions. Most ticks do not carry infection, and tests have verified that even if they are infected, they only begin transmitting disease if they are allowed to remain attached to feed for sustained periods of time, but it is important to remove them immediately. Do NOT try to burn, smother, or otherwise get a tick to “back out.” Also do not attempt to remove a tick with your fingers. These methods do not work, and can cause the tick to regurgitate more potential pathogens into the dog’s skin.

You can use tweezers to remove a tick, but an inexpensive, easy-to-use tick remover called “Ticked Off”, works much better. I suggest having a couple of these on hand “just in case.” You can find them in most pet stores and at Amazon on- line. For info on this ingenious device, go to www.tickedoff.com or call the company toll free at 800-642-2485.

If you do not have a commercial tick remover, using a sharp tweezers, grasp the tick as close to where it is embedded in the skin as possible. Do NOT grasp the tick by its body. Pull slowly and steadily, directly out. Do not jerk, twist or wiggle the tick. Use steady pressure to make the tick release its hold and allow you to remove it intact. Be patient if this takes a little time. Check to make sure all of the tick has been removed, and once you have removed it, don’t just toss it into the garbage or down the kitchen sink. Ticks are very tough little parasites…they have even been known to survive being flushed down the toilet. The best solution is drowning in alcohol.

If you use a vet-approved preventative product, do daily body checks, and remove any tick from your dog immediately, both you and your dog should cruise through the tick season without serious problems.