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Your poor pooch is scratching himself all over. Plus, you know he's uncomfortable because he's whimpering and gnawing too. Chances are, he's got fleas. These little sixlegged parasites will wreak havoc and mayhem for you and your pet if you don't learn how to take care of the problem now.
Most fleas are known in the medical world as Ctenocephalides Felis, which is a species of cat flea that has really enjoys dog meat. It's ironic, but true. These little buggers have four stages to their life-egg-larva-pupa-adult-and it's your job to kill them all off or you're going to have big problems with these tiny insects.
Fleas thrive in warm, humid and low altitude areas. Female fleas are the one's that need your puppy or dog's blood in order to lay her eggs, and their most likely the ones that are aggravating your pooch the most. However, male fleas also do their fair share of bloodletting on your doggie's skin. If you live in a warmer climate (southern US states or Hawaii), you should treat your dog for fleas year-round.
There are many ways to check to see if you puppy or dog has fleas. As mentioned above, they may scratch, bite or whimper, but many dogs won't react at all. It simply depends upon their skin type and if they have an allergic reaction to the flea's salvia residue, and not the actual bite. If your dog is allergic to fleas and/or their bites, you'll know it.
It's called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), and the dog may develop a rash or even lose hair. Fleas also spread tapeworms and have been known in extreme, but not rare, cases to cause your dog (or especially puppies) anemia. To check for fleas yourself, simply brush up your puppy or dog's coat and look for the insects hopping around. If you can't see them for yourself, try using a magnifying glass under good light. Keep in mind that fleas don't necessarily live on your dog. So, you may have to check for small flea feces or eggs, which are brown and/or red.
If you notice fleas, there are some things that you must do. You may want to talk or visit with your vet before starting your own flea-battling regimen. First, let's take care of the puppy or dog. Use gentle flea and tick shampoo. Wash and soak thoroughly. The shampoo will rid your dog's skin of any eggs, larvae or flea feces. When dry, you may want to use some flea powder on your dog. But first, test a spot to make sure that it doesn't burn or irritate your dog's skin. Second, wash the puppy or dog's sleeping area (which you should do once a week anyway). Use a pyrethrin-based product or an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) or Insect Developmental Inhibitor (IDI) on his sleeping area. Try using a monthly dosage product proven to help battle against fleas. If your dog still has discomfort, use a dermatological mist and/or try an antihistamine tablet. Keep your dog from running all over the house. He should remain somewhat quarantined as to not roll around on or become infected with any more fleas.
Finally, it's time to take care of the environment that the fleas thrive in, your home. First, experts say that vacuuming the infected area will help substantially. Be sure to empty and change the vacuum bag each time. Then, you can use an IGR or IDI product throughout your home. Better yet, use a canned fogger in your home and spray in all the hard-toreach areas. Then, vacuum thoroughly again. You can also treat the grass in your yard against fleas. It's a full-fledged battle against an almost invisible enemy. You can win it, and you must for you and your dog's sanity.
About the Author:
Tina Spriggs is an expert dog lover whose lifelong interest in canines provides the motivation for her site. To learn more about dogs or to find gifts and toys for them visit her site at Dog Gifts and Toys for Dog Lovers.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
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