Health Care

Feature Article - Fleas
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Fleas and Ticks are annoying and can be a serious health hazard to your dog or cat unless you take steps to erradicate these pests.

Please be aware of the warning signs before they result in ailments that reduce your dogs level of health.

Warning Signs
Be aware of the following warning signs that indicate the existence of fleas on your pet: 

  • BLACK SPECKS -- black specks on your pet or in your pet's bed could be flea dirt, which is feces from the adult fleas. There are two easy ways to check for black specks: 
    • Flea Comb -- available from your veterinarian, pet supply stores or catalogs (the metal ones are the best). Run the comb over your pet, making sure the comb reaches the skin through the coat. If black specks are on the comb when you pull it off, they may be flea dirt. If fleas are on the comb, drown them in a bowl of soapy water before they can get away or jump back on your pet.

    • White paper towel -- place a white paper towel beneath your pet and rub your hands across its fur. If black specks appear on the towel, they may be flea dirt. If a drop of water is placed on the specks and it turns red, that concludes that it's flea dirt.
  • AGITATION/SCRATCHING -- your pet will become very nervous, annoyed and will scratch excessively if infested with fleas.  This can result in sores commonly known as "hot spots" and can trigger infection requiring a trip to the veterinarian for appropriate medical care. Sulfodene, a product found in most grocery stores in the pet isle is one of the most useful over-the-counter medications that can be used safely for "hot spots" helping to soothe and heal the area.
    A flea-free environment is the answer to a healthy animal along with other factors, but if you must use flea control, please make sure you use them with common sense.  Topical applications such as Advantage or Frontline are once-a-month products, but if your flea problem is not extensive, you will find that they last considerably longer and it is not necessary to reapply every month. Treating your home, yard and dog well the first time will dramatically change your need to continue with any chemicals.  Dips are chemicals and should be used with absolute caution. Flea sprays contain alcohol and chemical, and should be used sparingly.  If your animal shows an extreme amount of fleas, please, please have them checked by your vet. Healthy dogs who are exposed to a flea environment will have a substantially lower number on them. A dog in poor health, whose immune system is down for some reason will be a magnet to fleas, indicating a quick need to have the dog visit the vet to determine if there is an underlying problem that can be brought to your attention and corrected.
  • Fleas can affect your pet's health in the following ways: 
  • FLEA ALLERGY DERMATITIS (FAD) -- when a flea bites your pet, it deposits a small amount of saliva in the skin. Your pet can develop FAD in reaction to this saliva, which causes severe itching. In addition to your pet scratching or biting excessively around the tail, groin or backside, scabs or bumps may also appear on your pet's neck or back. One flea can trigger this reaction.
  • ANEMIA -- occurs in young, older or ill pets if too many fleas suck their blood. The symptoms of anemia include pale gums, weakness and lethargy in your pet.



    You can lower your pet's risk of getting these flea-bite related ailments by regularly grooming your dog, keeping the living quarters flea free and observing any changes in their behavior.

    If you believe that your pet is suffering from any of the above ailments, consult your veteranarian. 

Suggestions to keeping the living quarters flea-free
  • VACUUMING -- vacuum frequently wherever your pet has been, especially in your car (if your pet rides in your car), around any carpeted area in your home and on any furniture that is frequented by your pet in order to clean up as many immature fleas (eggs, larvae and pupae) as possible.
  • WASHING -- wash your pet's bedding, blanket and other washable items frequently in the hottest water possible (check the laundering instructions to make sure that washing in hot water isn't a problem). Flea larvae, when hatched will look like little wiggly string, no longer than an 1/8inch long.
  • YARDWORK -- mow your lawn and rake up any leaves, brush or clippings.
  • If chemicals are used, please read the instructions and use them with extreme care!
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These health articles are not meant to keep your dog from having a proper medical evaluations or treatment if needed. If you are having a problem with your dog, please seek proper medical attention first. These articals are meant for general information only and are not endorsed by any veterinarian or DORG magazine  -- DORG

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