How to be Flea and Tick-free

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How to be Flea and Tick-free
3 steps to keeping pests and parasites at bay.

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For your dog’s wellbeing and happiness, it’s extremely important to keep him free from parasites such as fleas and ticks, which can pose serious health risks to your pet. Fleas and ticks feed off the host animal’s blood—in this case, your dog—transferring dangerous microorganisms, which can cause Lyme disease (a tissue disease) or Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Anaplasmosis (both infections of the blood), among others. In some regions with cooler climates, like northern and midwestern states, these parasites are prevalent in spring and summer. However, in warmer southern states they’re a year-round problem. Here are the three keys to keeping your pup happy, healthy, and parasite free!

Detection Of Parasites: Know The Signs
Excessive licking or chewing, hotspots, restlessness, and, in severe cases, anemia, can all be signs that parasites are present.

FLEAS. Look for fleas with a flea comb. This specialty comb has thin, narrowly spaced tines designed to collect these tiny, brown, fast-moving insects. They do not fly but they are serious jumpers. Fleas can be anywhere on the pet, and you will see flea droppings on the skin resembling small specks of pepper. Another sign your pet has fleas is that the skin can appear red and irritated, usually from the flea bites and the scratching that follows.

TICKS. Ticks look like a spider. They have eight legs and range from about the size of a sesame seed to around ¼ inch when fully engorged. Ticks can be anywhere on your dog but pay special attention to the ears, between the paw pads and the anal area. You are most likely to find ticks by feeling them under your pet’s fur. On the skin you may see a red “bullseye mark,” which is a sure sign that a tick had attached and was feeding. The skin can become irritated, making the pet scratch. If a tick has attached to your pet, see your vet.

Prevention Of Parasites
Chemical. There are sprays, which can be used on surfaces such as couches, floor boards, dog beds, and in the yard as well as topical solutions, which you will apply to dog’s fur. These contain insecticides to kill the fleas or ticks. Oral preventatives, prescribed by a veterinarian, are given to the pet monthly. Each has its own side effects so it is best to consult with your veterinarian to determine what you should be using.

Natural. There are a wide range of natural sprays, powders, and oral parasite preventatives. Sprays usually have an essential oil component, which can kill or deter pests. Powders sometimes include diatomaceous earth along with natural oils made in powder form. Oral natural preventatives come in many forms, such as tablets or treats. Consult your veterinarian to determine the right choice for your pet.

Environment. If you live in an area where fleas and ticks are a problem, it’s a good idea to treat both inside and outside of your home in addition to treating your dog. If you take your dog in your car, it’s a good idea to treat there too.

Importance Of Grooming
Whether it’s at home or at the groomer’s, one of the easiest and most effective ways to detect and eradicate parasites year-round is grooming. A regular grooming routine for your dog is not only an essential part of their overall health, it’s also a great way to bond and deepen you relationship. To make grooming effective and efficient, using the right tools is key.

Comb & brush. This not only keeps your pup looking great but it’s a key part of finding those pesky parasites. Slicker brushes work well on thick, short-to-medium length coats such as on the Labrador Retriever or the Pomeranian. Pin brushes are great for dogs with a more delicate long coat, such as on the Yorkshire Terrier or the Afghan Hound. Use a flea comb. This specialized tool will help rid your dog of fleas.

Know parasite hideouts. Regularly inspecting “hideout” areas such as the paw pads and genital areas is always a good idea. Similarly, inspecting and cleaning ears regularly helps.

Do the summer shave down. Depending on your dog’s coat (breeds that have a double coat should not be shaved as their insulating coat actually keeps them cool in the summer and protects from pests), a short trim or a summer shave down can be a great way to keep that hair manageable so that the brushing, maintenance, and parasite detection is much easier. This can be done at the groomer or at home. If you are doing this at home, try using clipper attachment combs over the blade to achieve a cute stylish trim ranging in length from around 5/8 of an inch to 1¼ inches long.

*Awesome at-home grooming resource: For free grooming tips visit andisgroomingcollege.com.

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