The No-panic Guide to Tackling Fleas and Ticks on Your Dog

If you are a pet owner, you will already know that treating your dog for fleas and ticks is a year-round issue.  However, there are certain times of the year when the flea and tick population increases and that can mean far more cases of tick-borne diseases in people and animals.

 

How do we know if there will be lots of ticks this year?

There have been many reports throughout the media already this year to indicate that this is likely to be one of the most problematic years for fleas and ticks in the US. Scientists know which years will be worse for Lyme disease than others simply by recording the number of mice throughout the country. Mice transmit Lyme disease very efficiently and ticks thrive on mice, with approximately 50 to 100 ticks covering a mouse’s face.1  In 2016 there was a plague of mice in the US and because of this, scientists know that 2017 will see higher numbers of ticks than in other years.

When temperatures during the winter are mild and spring arrives early, fleas and ticks thrive.

 

Tick
Tick

 

Why do you need to protect your dog from fleas and ticks?

Dog fleas survive by biting the host (the dog), which initially causes itching and redness on the dog’s skin. Some dogs can become severely anemic because of the blood loss caused by a flea infestation.  Others develop a hypersensitivity to the saliva from fleas, which may make dogs scratch more intensely and may lead to hair loss and abrasions, which ultimately can lead to infections.

Fleas are also intermediate hosts for tapeworms, so there is a likelihood of dogs ingesting tapeworms too.  Fleas also carry other diseases such as the plague, typhus, and myxomatosis.

 

flea
Flea

 

Ticks also spread disease.  If your dog gets bitten by a tick it can cause a wide range of health issues.  The most commonly known is Lyme disease, which causes swelling at the joints and can result in lameness. Rocky mountain spotted fever is another illness, which causes fever and lameness plus other symptoms.   Babesiosis can also occur.  Ticks can also cause your pet to become anemic and certain species of female ticks can cause paralysis in dogs.

 

How do you protect your dog?

Use a flea and tick control product on your pet and ensure that you apply the treatment as directed by the manufacturer.  Consistency is important, as skipping a treatment can mean months trying to get back on top of the problem.

In your yard, prevent ticks from thriving by keeping lawns mowed, ensuring that there aren’t big piles of leaves and keeping trees and hedging trimmed.  Try to keep fleas at a minimum by deterring wildlife from entering your yard, as they bring plenty of fleas with them.

Protecting your dog from ticks is not particularly easy.  Ticks can attach themselves to your pet when you are out walking your dog without you realizing.  Try to keep your pet away from areas where there is a particularly high tick infestation – your veterinarian may be aware of locations in your area that are best avoided.

dog in grass

What to do if your dog gets bitten by a tick

Ticks often become attached around the head, ears, neck, and feet of your pet, but they can show up in other areas too.  Always check your dog thoroughly following a walk.  If you find a tick on your dog, don’t just pull the tick off as it can leave parts of the tick behind, which will cause further problems.

There are products that you can buy at pet stores or veterinarian offices that allow you to lift the tick safely off your dog’s skin.

Alternatively, you can remove a tick simply using tweezers. The Humane Society recommends the following approach.  Using clean tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible and pull it out of the skin in one straight, steady motion.Always wear gloves to ensure that you don’t get bitten by the tick too.

If you have questions or concerns about the best way to keep ticks and fleas at bay or how to treat your pet for problems associated with these bugs, speak to your local veterinarian.  Your veterinarian can advise you based on your location, the breed and size of your dog, and based on any other health conditions that your dog may have.

References

  1. http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/03/06/518219485/forbidding-forecast-for-lyme-disease-in-the-northeast?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170306
  2. http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/getting_ticks_off_dog.html?referrer=https://www.google.co.uk/

 

 

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Why Mom was Right About Spring Cleaning: Part 3, Lifestyle

 

Part 3: Your lifestyle

 

When you are a busy adult, whether because of work commitments, child care, caring for senior family members, pet care,  or perhaps all of the aforementioned, it is often easy to make the mistake of putting yourself last.  Admittedly in this 3-part series, I am posting this last, which shows I’m as guilty of thinking along these lines as anybody.  Whenever I’ve put my needs first, I’ve always felt a little bit guilty, but recent events at my veterinarian’s office made me rethink what I had previously thought of as selfish actions on my part.

motherjuggling

I was attending an appointment with my dog when another dog’s owner experienced a heart attack in the waiting room. Fortunately, the outcome of a long and convoluted story was that the dog’s owner recovered well and the dog received care during the recuperation period.  It left me with the realization that in order to ensure someone else’s welfare, we need to ensure our own welfare. Ultimately, if we don’t take proper care of ourselves, we become unable to care for others. Isn’t it, therefore, a wise investment to make time for yourself this spring by reviewing your lifestyle and maybe giving it an overhaul if it is falling short?

 

 

Rethink your workout habits

You work out to stay fit and healthy, but if your routine hasn’t really changed in many years, maybe it could do with a refresh to keep you interested and challenged.  If you enjoy working out with your dog, activities like canine parcours or doga could be of interest to you.  If you love walking with your dog, but are thinking about progressing to running, maybe alternating jogging with walking with your pup may be a good way to ease both of you into the sport.

yoga

Improve your diet

We’re not talking about dangerous diets or detox programs, but simply evaluating what you eat and seeing how you can boost your nutritional intake can be beneficial.  An easy way to start is with a food diary, in which you write down what and how much you have eaten for every meal for a couple of weeks (or longer if you prefer).  You will probably be surprised by the results.  If you find your diet is particularly low in vegetables, that is an easy fix.  Additionally, if you notice that there is a lot of repetition in your meals, you can add more variety to give a broader range of nutrients and more interest for your palate. In the last couple years particularly, many  TV chefs, TV doctors, and celebrity fitness trainers have been focusing on increasing nutritional value in meals to try to help people reduce weight, prevent disease, and ultimately add years to their lives. Their suggested recipes are often simple to fix, absolutely delicious, and many are available free online – it’s worth googling.

superfood-salad

Take more time for yourself

No matter what hobbies you have and how you prefer to take time for yourself, make certain that you build some of this time into your week. Make a list of the things that you really want to do for yourself and the things that help you relax. Then look at what you actually do on a daily basis and determine what tasks can be eliminated or even outsourced.  If you spend all your spare time catching up on household duties, maybe some of those tasks can be shared with a spouse, leaving you some time to attend a language lesson, catch up on a good book, or whatever you want to do that’s just for you.

Nurture your friendships

Friends getting together

Friendships are vital, whether we have busy lives or not. Try to stay in touch with friends on a weekly basis, even if just by phone, and try to get together as often as possible. Friendships help us to feel connected, boost happiness levels, reduce stress, and may even help in preventing early onset dementia.

best-friends

 

Your Mom was right,  spring cleaning is an important addition to every person’s calendar, but not just for keeping your house spiffy. Take time for yourself, it’s not selfish, it’s essential!

 

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