By Victoria Swanson — One of many Pet Health blogs on SmartLivingNetwork.com
If you are a pet owner, you know the havoc fleas or ticks can cause for your pets, you and your home. Here are my tips for flea and tick treatment and preventative methods.
Our pets can get fleas from other flea-infested animals - a stray dog or cat or urban wildlife such as opossums and raccoons that explore your backyard. Female fleas will lay their eggs in your backyard. These then develop into adult fleas just waiting for your pet to give them a ride.
By keeping wood piles or high grass in your backyard or by taking a leisurely walk in the woods you may also be bringing fleas and ticks into your home. Ticks in particular like to hang on shrubs, grass and other types of brush. When a dog or cat walks by these areas, a tick jumps onto our pets and the feast begins.
Fleas, with their secretions that go under the skin while they are feeding, can cause an allergic reaction. The most common skin disease caused by a flea allergy is dermatitis. This can cause dogs or cats to bite and scratch themselves until they lose their hair. This can even cause sores. All-in-all, fleas are extremely uncomfortable for our pets.
Anemia is another potential side effect of a flea or tick infestation. Because fleas and ticks are blood sucking insects, pets can become anemic and possibly die if this infestation is not taken care of medically.
Fleas often transmit tapeworms to our pets as well.
As for ticks, there are 15 or more tick transmitted disease that our pets can get. The most common that we humans know about is Lyme disease. It's a very serious deliberating disease. Other diseases are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and ehrlichiosis. Some of these diseases can kill our pets.
Take control of your environment if you have pets. Carpet is a flea's best friend! They can hide and live in carpeting long term. A wet basement can also harbor a flea infestation. Frequent vacuuming and cleaning prevent fleas and are a must if a flea problem is already at hand.
Keep your landscape minimal. Mow your yard weekly and remove all weeds and brush. Trim back any bushes and keep the area free of debris. During the Fall, it is imperative to rake your leaves up and dispose of them safely.
If you choose to spray your backyard with a pesticide to rid of fleas, do understand first where the fleas are living. Fleas are not fond of direct sunlight, so that focus on the damp wood chips and bushes you may have in which they thrive. If you choose to spray pesticide in your yard, make sure all pets and children are kept safely away for up to 6 hours after spraying. Spray when conditions are dry.
Once a month flea and tick preventative is a MUST. This goes for mosquitoes too which can cause heart worm.
Some people think that these preventatives are not necessary in the winter and can be put on hold until the warmer months come back. Unfortunately, because there are so many different tick species and fleas which thrive in wood piles (which are used for the cooler months in the Midwest and Northern areas of North America), you should never skip a month of your pets preventatives.
Treatment should be done once a month. Your vet will recommend which monthly treatment is best for your pet. There are treatments that take care of Flea and Ticks all in one application. Some medicines include treatment for certain types of other parasites such as; tapeworms, hookworms, or round worms. It is very important to consult with your vet which monthly application is the best for your pet and for your location of where you live. Don't forget to ask about heartworm prevention too!
Just like any medicine, our pets can suffer from reactions to this medication. However, if used accordingly these products are very effective and safe.
Using over-the counter product can contain certain chemicals that are very harmful to our pets and humans. I do not recommend over-the-counter products such as a flea collar or sprays.
Natural and Holistic way of living is ever increasing and more people are thriving to live the "Green" life.
One product that you can look into is from Vetinox, called Defendex. Like any type of product, do your research and if your pet has a serious infestation of fleas or ticks visit your vet immediately.
I hope these tips help keep the Fleas and Ticks at bay around your home.
Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005
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