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Itch, itch. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Does that sound familiar? Hopefully not, but if it does you might be one of the millions of people whose dog has fleas, mites or other miniscule cretins leeching upon him.
Fleas are tiny insects use their long, powerful legs to catapult onto your dog's body, where they burrow into his fur, live off his blood, and raise families of thousands. Many dogs develop a sensitivity to flea saliva, which the flea injects into your dog's skin as a way to prevent his blood from coagulating and thereby ensure a plentiful meal. If this is the case with your pup, you'll see him scratch, scratch, scratching away.
Whether or not your dog has an allergy to fleas, they're without a doubt an annoying pest that's tough to eradicate. Once your dog has contracted fleas, they will quickly spread to any area where he is a frequent visitor- his bedding, his doghouse, your carpet and furniture, and possibly your clothing and bedding as well.
Fleas and Disease
The most common complication of fleas on your dog is tapeworms in his stool. Yes, it is foul, but as it is with parasites, one often hosts the other, and many a flea has been host to a tapeworm who then made his way into your dog's intestinal tract. Just another great reason to keep those fleas off your dog. The other reason is anemia. Animals that thrive on your dog's blood literally suck the life out of him... so if fleas have been preying upon your pooch, he may show signs of anemia, such as extreme fatigue. Get him to the vet for a thorough examination and inquire about what vitamins and supplements you can give to restore your dog back to a healthy, energetic state.
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Fleas
The most obvious sign of fleas on your dog is constant scratching and irritation of the skin. You may notice pink welts on his belly that eventually crust over; these are flea bites. Another way to check him for fleas is to have him stand on a few pieces of white paper while you comb through his fur. If you see little black flecks on the paper that look a lot like ground pepper, you've got yourself a flea situation. The little flecks are "flea dirt," and when you moisten them with water they'll turn dark red because they contain blood... the blood of your poor dog that those nasty fleas have been feasting on!
Ask your vet what methods he recommends to repel fleas. In the old days, most everyone put a flea collar and/or used flea powder on their dog. Some had their dogs "dipped" in a flea repellant bath. Today there are more sophisticated options in addition to the traditional methods... some of which are all-natural and environmentally friendly, and others which are chemical-based and afford extended protection with minimal application.
IGRs (insect growth regulators) kill flea eggs and flea larvae, and are available in both collar and spray form as well as oral medication. Sentinel® is one product that does double duty as both a flea repellant and heartworm protection, and only requires one application per month.
Adulticides kill the actual flea and can be purchased as both spot-on and oral products. Frontline® is one brand that is applied to your dog's shoulder blade area, where it is absorbed and distributed throughout his system. When fleas come in contact with his skin that's been treated with Frontline® or a similar insecticide, they die instantly.
Flea Control in Your Home
Hopefully, you'll take the proper precautions to keep fleas at bay, so you'll never know the unpleasantness of a flea-ridden home. But if you do happen to find fleas, you'll need to act quickly to avoid infestation. First and foremost, give your vet a call and ask him the best method of de-flea-ing your dog and your home. Treat your carpets, furniture, dog bed, and areas outside your home where your dog is frequently found, with an approved flea treatment. Thoroughly vacuum every inch of carpet, and your mattresses if you think there may be a problem there as well. And don't forget to apply flea repellant to the inside of your vacuum! Although it does a great job of sucking up those creepy little creatures, your warm and cozy vaccuum serves as the perfect flea-breeding incubator, which can mean reinfestation later.
No one wants to spray or bomb their home with harmful pesticides, but if you don't take preventive measures against fleas on your dog, that's pretty much your only option to be rid of them. So do yourself a favor and get a flea repellent for that pup of yours!
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
Dina Giolitto is a copywriting consultant and ghostwriter with 10 years of experience writing corporate print materials and web content. Trust her with your next e-book, article series or web project, and make a lasting impression on your audience of information-hungry prospects. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for more information.
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