Sunshine, warm days and flowers blooming are an invitation to spend more days outdoors; however, it’ unfortunate that these mild-weathered months are even the preferred ones for annoying blood-sucking critters such as fleas and ticks. Whether your dog spends time in the yard, lounges on the couch or goes on hikes in the mountains with you, he’s vulnerable to the effects of these pesky parasites. Fleas and ticks may be found just about everywhere making them not that easy to eradicate. Getting to know these parasites better is important so you don’t underestimate the importance of flea and tick protection.
Fleas and Ticks: Much More than Bites
Fleas do much more than bite dogs. Yes, they enjoy picnics on pets causing poor dogs to scratch all day as they crawl all over their fur and bite. It’s unfortunate though than other than the annoying itch, some pets get more than their fair share of bites. Some sensitive dogs actually develop an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva, often developing skin irritations known as flea allergic dermatitis. To add insult to injury, fleas may also cause tapeworms. All it takes is for a pet to ingest an infected flea, and sooner than later, tapeworm segments will be seen crawling out the pet’s bottom. These cause dogs to feel itchy down there and this may trigger a bout of scooting.
Ticks on the other hand, may prove even more harmful. Not only do they suck blood, they are also able to transmit serious tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Erlichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. All these tick-borne disease are capable of causing a vast array of symptoms that can turn out being very problematic. Some dogs are so infected with ticks, they may even develop anemia as a result, especially in small puppies and kittens or malnourished pets. In some cases, ticks may also cause neurological problems as seen in tick-bite paralysis.
Take Action Against Flea and Ticks
So what can be done to help these pets overcome the battle against flea and ticks? The answer consists of effective flea and tick control products. There are many flea and tick repellents on the market nowadays. The choice can be sometimes overwhelming. Some products can be obtained by prescription only while many other are available over the counter. Owners, however, must be aware that choosing an effective yet safe, product may not be as easy as it sounds. Making an informed decision is very important to protect pets from harmful side effects that sadly can prove to be deleterious in some cases.
Often, owners may be tempted to purchase over-the-counter products that are cheaper and don’t require a vet visit, but many may cause much more harm than good. There have been reports of puppies and dogs developing serious side effects from them, and in some cases, there have been even reports of dogs dying. According to veterinarian Karen Becker, particularly vulnerable are dogs weighing between 10 and 20 pounds. All it takes to have an idea of the extent of damage derived from over the counter flea products is to visit websites like Hartz Kills and Biospot Victims which are full of scary reports of serious side effects and even death in many furry companions. Some symptoms that are suggestive of an adverse reaction include: dilated pupils, drooling, shaking, seizures, vomiting, hiding and irritated skin.
Protecting Dogs from Harm
So with pesky parasites that risk causing serious complication on one side, and dangerous products on the other, what’s left to do to protect dogs? The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests talking to your veterinarian for help in finding the safest products. Always read the directions carefully and never use flea products designed for dogs in cats. Only use products designed for your pet’s weight. Always apply in areas where the pet cannot lick it off and be sure to monitor your pet in the following 24 hours just to be safe. Keep package inserts handy, just in case, there should be an adverse reaction and seek immediate veterinary attention in the case of a reaction. While many vets recommend particular products, it’s also true that adverse reactions may still happen even with vet-recommended products. If your dog is particularly sensitive, it’s not a bad idea to consult with a holistic vet and inquire about more natural products.
The Bottom Line
Flea and ticks are small parasites, but they bring big problems. Further steps can be taken to further protect pets from fleas and ticks. Other than focusing on killing the fleas on the dog, dog owners should also consider using safe, veterinarian-approved products meant to kill all life stages of the flea so to eradicate them from the dog’s environment, and with ticks, the earlier they are removed, the better, as the longer they stay attached the higher chances of transmitting dangerous diseases.