keeping those pesky parasites away from your pretty puppy
They're the bane of every pet owner. Fleas, ticks, mites, lice, mosquitoes, worms, the list goes on and on and on and on and... well, you get the point. Once one pet has them, chances are the rest in the house have them as well, and so do your carpets and furniture. They're a pain to eradicate, so the best way to get rid of them is to keep your pup from ever getting them in the first place. It can be very time and energy intensive, but would you rather spend a little time preventing them or a lot of time exterminating them?
I can handle ticks and mosquitoes, but what am I supposed to do about fleas? Every time I think I'm rid of them, they come back! How are they getting on my dog and what can I do about them?
Ugh. That's certainly the definition of a face only a mother could love. While that's actually a human flea, animal fleas are very similar in appearance and modus operandi. As insects, fleas have a body segmented into three portions, each of which has a set of very strong legs to power their infamous jumping.
If the fact that they live off your dog's blood and skin flakes wasn't lovely enough, consider the fact that, for each little bugger you find on your dog, there are probably 100 more on her coat, in your house, or just outside your door waiting to be hatched, grown, and matured into biting machines in their own right. If you comb through your pup's coat and find what looks like salt and pepper, you've got a flea problem. Ideally, you should apply a flea and tick repellant recommended by your vet to your dog's coat on a monthly basis. If you haven't been doing so and notice fleas, you're in for a full-house treatment.
Without treating the house and surrounding areas, your dog (and any other pets) will easily attract a new batch of blood-suckers once his dip or powder wears off. Begin by bathing your dog with a flea preventative, then apply the flea repellant recommended by your vet. Treat your carpets with an
Did You Know? A flea's bites themselves won't make your dog itch, but the allergic disorder fleas carry in their saliva will.
approved flea treatment, then continue to treat furniture, flowerbeds adjacent to your house, and any areas of your yard frequented by your dog. Any household cats should also be treated, but do not use the same chemicals you used on your dog. Speak with your vet about appropriate feline flea treatments, as chemicals suitable for dogs can be fatal for cats.
Okay, smarty, what about ticks?
You've probably had a run-in with ticks at some point, whether on your dog, your child, or yourself. They also love to feast on the blood of mammals and tend to hang out near ground level until they sense a shadow, vibration, or heat, which clues them into the fact that a potential snack bar just came into the area. After finding a suitable place on the host animal, the tick dives right through the skin and gorges itself. Their saliva can cause inflammations on the skin, but a more troubling problem is an infestation of several ticks, which can lead to anemia. In extremely bad cases, the poison in a tick's saliva can cause paralysis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Prevention of tick bites is identical to prevention of fleas - consistent monthly use of a flea and tick repellant recommended by your veterinarian. Even then, the repellant may not work well against different varieties of ticks and you should make it a habit to check your dog for possible parasites after any walk in the woods.
If you find a tick on your dog, get tweezers as close to your dog's skin as possible, then grab onto the tick's body. Remove the tick slowly, then clean your pup's skin with an antiseptic or, at the very least, soap and water.
And lice? Are they the same as in humans? No, but they do leave their eggs on dogs in the same way they leave them on humans. In fact, that's how you'll be able to tell whether or not your pooch has lice at all. If you comb through her fur and notice egg-like flakes, get to the pet store and find a lice treatment. Shampoo her fur and spray her combs, bed, and any other areas she frequents with an insecticide. Because one variety of lice feeds on
Pregnant ticks are one of the most disgusting creatures on the planet. Come on, you know you were thinking it, too!
Helpful hint: For an easy way of figuring out whether your dog has fleas, have him sit on several white pieces of paper. Rub his coat against the lay of his fur. If you see black specks on the paper, they're likely either flea dirt or fleas themselves.
blood, make sure she's not showing any signs of anemia (typically lethargy or exhaustion). If so, speak with your vet about giving her an iron supplement or multivitamin.
What about mosquitoes? They're annoying, but are they really something I should worry about? Yes. In many parts of the world, mosquitoes are carriers for heartworms and can infect your dog if she's not on a heartworm preventative. On top of that, would you like it if your owners let pesky insects bite you over and over so you had to scratch like mad? Didn't think so.
If she loves the outdoors, keep her coated in a pet-friendly bug repellant and make sure she takes a regular heartworm treatment. Some flea and tick treatments now include a mosquito repellant, so you may want to talk to your vet about the possibility of switching to one of the newer treatments.
My dog has a bunch of dark wax in her ears. Should I be worried?
Dark brown or black wax can be an indicator of ear mites. You can confirm this by running a cotton ball over the outer part of your dog's ears, then holding the cotton ball against a dark piece of paper under a bright light. If you see any movement, your pup has ear mites.
While many pet stores carry ear wash, the best idea is to speak with your vet. He or she can prescribe stronger washes and medications to get rid of the mites and their eggs as well as any secondary yeast infection they may have created.
Okay, that's great, but I can see all of those things for myself. What about the bugs that might be inside my dog?
Internal parasites can be maddening, dangerous, and a major problem for dog owners. You can't see them, and often the symptoms aren't major or obvious.
Mosquitoes may just seem like a nuisance, but they can be fatal for dogs.
Helpful hint: Be careful with bug repellants. While the ones in your garage may work wonders for you, they can contain chemicals that are poisonous to your dog. Even if it doesn't touch her skin, she can lick it off her fur later and swallow it.
The most common of these parasites are worms, and the most common worms are roundworms. Your dog may pick up roundworms from infected soil, and symptoms can include "spaghetti stool" (feces that look like spaghetti), vomiting, or diarrhea. Your vet can detect the presence of roundworms by examining your dog's stool under a microscope and will treat her with one of the common worm treatments. Roundworms can be avoided by using a regular worm preventative.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites that can cause anemia by sucking blood through the internal organs. As a result, diarrhea, weakness, and weight loss can occur. Hookworms are extremely easy for your pup to contract - they can move through their pads or belly into the body from the soil or grass or can be ingested. If you notice dark or bloody diarrhea, your dog may have contracted hookworms. Other dogs have no symptoms at all. In both cases, deworming treatment is required for an extended period of time. Hookworms, like roundworms and heart worms, can be avoided by using a regular worm preventative.
Heartworms are one of the most well-known internal parasites and can be easily prevented with a regular heartworm treatment. You know that they're transmitted through mosquitoes and grow inside the heart until they completely block heart functions and lead to heart failure. Coughing, weight loss, and fainting can be indicators that heartworms are present in your pooch, so get to the vet if you notice one of those symptoms. Because the worms can cause respiratory problems, stop all exercise. Your vet will recommend a treatment based on the severity of the problems, which may include medication injections, aspirin, treatment for heart failure, and regular testing.
Fun fact: Have you spent any time on Friendster.com, the newest trend in social networking? Well, if your pooch is somebody who's anybody, be sure he has an account and profile on Dogster.com, Friendster's canine counterpart.
Another commonly contracted worm is the tapeworm, which doesn't cause any illness or pain for your dog but does pass through feces. This can be somewhat worrisome (and gross) to see in her waste, and tapeworms are hazardous to people. Although they don't make your dog sick, she should still be treated.
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