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How to Deal with Fleas and Ticks on your Dog
Author: Chris Chamberlin
Be prepared for Flea and Tick Season
Spring is fast approaching, and though in February the ground-hog may have predicted six weeks more of winter, someone forgot to tell the fleas and ticks to stay dormant too. March's damp warmer weather is typical conditions for the dogs dreaded unwelcome predators.
What do these tiny creatures that plague our canine friends have to do with grooming? PLENTY. Fleas and ticks are the number one cause of skin and coat problems on healthy dogs. Yes, even healthy dogs can have skin and coat damage. Most of these problems are due to the owners lack of knowledge on how to deal with this canine curse. What can you do to help? First you need to determine just what is the cause of the your dogs endless scratching. Check out my previous article Common Skin Problems on Your Dog If indeed you are dealing with a flea or tick then there are many things you can do to treat the problem. In this article I will review the pro and cons of some of those methods.
Herbal Remedies for Fleas & Ticks
There are a number of 'Home remedies' available for temporary relief but they are just that at best. Some work for some, others don't work at all. Trial and error is the only way to know for sure if you refuse to try the chemically based products. The most popular come in forms of shampoo and oils. Pennyroyal tops the list but the oil version is toxic to both you and your dog. Safer to grow the plant and use a tea solution from the dried leaves of the plant. Cedar beds have been reported to keep the critters out of you dogs bed but generally they simply jump to the carpet until they can catch a ride and lunch when your dog passes by. Outdoor you can keep the flea population down by planting marigolds or scattering Nematodes (bugs that eat fleas). Avon's Skin-So-Soft has been reported as an effective repellent for fleas on your dog. Some folks will attack the problem from within and fed garlic and brewers yeast in large amounts to their canine buddies. I have even had one customer swear that a ¼ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in his dogs drinking water has keep him flea free for years! Other products found in collars and such have consisted of citronella, rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus.
Whether or not you choose chemical or natural a good non toxic way to control infestation is regular vacuuming around baseboards and bedding area. Don't forget to empty the bag.
Collars, Powders, Sprays and Dips,
Collars will only keep the fleas and ticks away from the collar. Some will have enough residue pyrethrins in it to actually kill a flea or tick but only if the flea or tick bites in the localized area. Powders can be more effective as they can be spread over the entire dog allowing a more reliable kill. Unfortunately, the powders often don't agree with the dog causing further itching and can even irritate their owners too. Be sure to thoroughly brush the coat after applying a flea powder as they can leave dusty deposits on furniture. Sprays won't leave the mess that powders do but unless you literally saturate the dog they are of little benefit. If sprayed directly on a flea or tick it MAY stop him, even kill, eventually. Dips have a longer protection period and can last up to a month provided the dog does not get wet. Any from of water will dilute the dip which it dried onto the coat and lessen its effectiveness. Dips are somewhat more toxic than collars, powders, or sprays. Be careful to read instructions as some products can not be combined.
The long range plan of attack!
No matter which way you choose to proceed with the war against fleas or ticks, if you want to be successful you will have to address the issue of the offspring of the flea which can remain dormant in it protective cocoon for up to a year. Your vet can supply you with the correct dosage of pill (Program- a monthly pill which halts reproduction systems of fleas) or insecticide ( Advantage, Frontline, Proban - absorbed into the dogs skin to kill fleas and ticks) to combat the cause of our furry friends discomfort.
Good luck to all and lets win the war before it claims any victims!