Fleas Ticks Mosquitoes -- Prevention and Treatment

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					               Dog Tip: Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes --
                    Prevention and Treatment
By Robin Tierney

Fleas and Ticks
  Flea Removal
  Tick Removal
  Prevention – Treating Pets
Important Precautions
Flea Treatment of the Home
Flea Treatment of the Yard
Related Webpages

• Remember to use heartworm preventive. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, which are
   present nearly year-round in our area and throughout the country.
• West Nile Virus: There have been very few cases of West Nile Virus reported in canines.
   However, you still may want to the following precautions suggested by the ASPCA Animal Poison
   Control Center (APCC). These tips can help safeguard human family members too.
   • Keep pets indoors during times when mosquitoes are most active -- dawn, dusk and early
   • Eliminate areas of standing water that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and
       remember to recheck after each rainfall.
   • Change any outdoor water bowls a couple times a day to prevent mosquitoes from using them
       to lay their eggs.
   • The APCC does not recommend the use of mosquito control products that contain DEET.
       Dogs and cats are extremely sensitive to DEET and may develop neurological problems if a
       product formulated with DEET is applied to them.
   • Some topical flea and tick control products for dogs such as K9 Advantix now contain
       mosquito repellent.
   • Avoid using pest control products with concentrated essential oils such as tea tree,
       pennyroyal and d-limonine. Concentrates of these products have caused weakness, paralysis,
       liver problems and seizures in pets, plus their effectiveness is not proven.

Fleas and Ticks:
Fleas and ticks cause a variety of problems in pets. Fleas feed on animal blood and can trigger
problems including skin irritation, allergic reactions, anemia and in rare cases, death. They can also
carry tapeworms, which can infest your pet. If you see small rice-like particles around the dog's
anus or in his feces, he probably has tapeworms. Ticks carry diseases such as Lyme and Rocky
Mountain Spotted Fever, so you don’t want them feeding on your pet either.
•   To catch fleas and ticks early on, comb your pet with a flea comb. Remember to check between
    the toes, behind and in the ears, in the armpits, around the tail and head. A clever tip: comb
    your pet over white paper. If fleas are present, you will see tiny black specks fall on the paper.
Flea Removal:
• Remove using the flea comb. Some people dab some petroleum jelly on the comb to help make
    the fleas stick to its tines.
• Drown the fleas in water.
• Swab the pet's bitten area with antiseptic.
Tick Removal:
• When finding a tick, carefully remove the whole tick from the pet's body. Use tweezers or a
    tick scoop for removing ticks. Tick scoops, which work quite well, are available at many pet
    supply outlets. See www.tickedoff.com for details
• How to remove a tick using tweezers: Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible by trying to
    grip its head. Steadily pull upward until he releases his grip. Do not twist or jerk the tick
    because that action may break off the head or mouth parts, and you do not want to leave the
    tick head embedded in your pet’s skin. Also, do not squeeze to the point of crushing the tick or
    disease-spreading secretions may be released. If you do not have tweezers or a tick scoop, you
    can use your fingers, a loop of thread around the jaws, or a needle between the jaws to pull it
    out. If the head is left in the skin, use a sterile needle to remove the head similar to how you
    would remove a splinter. Wash the tick bite and your hands with soap and water, and apply
    antibiotic ointment to the bite.
Note: Studies show that using petroleum jelly, alcohol and hot match heads do not work to loosen
ticks from skin, although a few people still use the petroleum jelly and rubbing alcohol approaches,
but the hot match technique has caused skin injuries.
• Ticks do not drown in water, so dispose of them by wrapping in a tissue and flushing down the
    toilet, or drowning in rubbing alcohol. Do not crush the tick; that can spread disease. Some vets
    may want to see the tick if disease transmission is suspected.
Prevention -- Treating Pets:
• Keep your pets healthy. Fleas and other parasites have less effect on healthy animals...and they
    tend to live on pets who are unhealthy and/or have weak immune systems.
• There are many modern effective flea and tick products, including several "spot on" types that
    are easy to apply to the skin such as Frontline (which is effective for killing fleas and ticks) and
    K9 Advantix (effective for fleas, ticks and mosquitoes). Cat products include Frontline and
    Advantage. You do not need to use them year-round, but you should consider using them monthly
    during flea and tick seasons. Ask your veterinarian about effective medications, and learn the
    facts about the pest prevention you use. You can also find details about various products on the
    web. You can compare several dog and cat flea/tick products at
• There are several less expensive over-the-counter flea and tick products for dogs available in
    pet supply stores and supermarkets. These products typically contain permethrin, which is
    derived from a natural insecticide. Brands include BioSpot and Control (which also include an
    insect growth regulator). Permethrin tends to be more effective against ticks than fleas. Since
    permethrin can be toxic to cats, you may not want to use it on your dogs if you also have cats.
    For details, see http://www.VeterinaryPartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=626 . For
    cats, BioSpot offers Flea Halt Towelettes.
•   Keep in mind that some adult-strength preventatives are too harsh for young puppies, and that
    dog and cat products are not interchangeable since the strengths and formulas of the products
•   Insect growth regulators (IGR) like lufenuron, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen can be used in
    combination or alone with other flea control/flea-killing products. They can help break the flea
    life cycle by inhibiting flea maturation. IGRs include Precor (used inside the home), Program (a
    pill taken orally by the pet), and Archer and FleaFix (which are applied to the environment by
    spray indoors and outdoors). Some pet owners pair Program with one of the topical products
    (such as Frontline) mentioned above.
•   There are effective recipes for natural flea and tick repellents. One source is the book
    "Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments
    and Healing Techniques from the Nation's Top Holistic Veterinarians" by Martin Zucker. Use
    sprays in well-ventilated areas, or better yet, outdoors. Don't spray anything in a dog's face;
    apply spray to the hand and then rub it on the fur.
•   Two sources for natural products for flea and tick control:
    http://www.preciouspets.org/fleafree.htm http://www.greenpet.com.au/article_fleas.php
•   One inexpensive over-the-counter choice for dogs and cats is Gentle Touch drops. Gentle Touch
    is a spot on that is all natural and free of chemicals and petroleum solvents.
•   A growing number of pet owners use natural ingredient-based flea repellents and techniques in
    order to avoid using pest control chemicals and commercial medications for their pets. Some
    natural/holistic approaches that people have found effective include:
    • Add a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to the dog’s water bowl.
    • Put a drop of lemon oil or rosemary oil on the dog’s collar.
    • Apply a dab of lavender oil in between the dog's shoulder blades.
    • Some dog owners have reported that garlic in small quantities can help repel doggie fleas by
         making the animal taste unpleasant to fleas. Grate a small amount of fresh, raw garlic into
         your pet’s food at mealtime, about 1/2 to 3 chambers of the clove, depending on animals
    • Boil 6 cut in half lemons, then strain the solution into a spray bottle and spray.
•   One home-made tick repellent: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~norbertf/alternative.htm
•   Flea shampoos, powders, and sprays tend to kill only the adult fleas on the pet at the time of
    application. Flea mousses, foams and creme rinses tend to last a little longer. Flea and tick dips,
    which are typically poured on the pet, are stronger, but more likely to contain harsh and
    potentially toxic chemicals. The newer products mentioned earlier in this tipsheet are regarded
    as more effective and somewhat safer than the older types of flea control. And some pet
    owners prefer the natural ingredient-based approaches.

Important Precautions (from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center):
• Before using any insect product, read the label instructions completely. For example, some dog
   products can be deadly to cats, even in tiny amounts. And some products should never be used
   on very young or elderly pets. Never use insecticides on young, pregnant, debilitated, or elderly
   animals without consulting your veterinarian.
• If you want to avoid using insecticides directly on your pet, you could comb the fleas off the
   animal with a flea comb then submerge the fleas in a small container of soapy water.
• Use caution when using shampoos, sprays, topical spot-ons, or mousse near your pet's eyes, ears,
   and genitalia.
•   Just because a product is labeled as "natural" does not mean that it is completely safe. For
    example, d-limonene and linalool are citrus extracts used as flea control agents that can have
    serious side effects if used on sensitive animals or if used improperly.
•   Observe your pet closely after using flea products. If he exhibits unusual behavior, or becomes
    depressed, weak, or uncoordinated, contact your vet immediately.
•   Typically you should not bathe the animal before or soon after applying flea and/or tick control
    products. Again, it is essential to read the product information.
•   If you use a flea collar and you let your dog swim in water, remove the flea collar, since wet flea
    collars can irritate the skin, and the active ingredients will wash off, rendering the collar
    ineffective. Flea Treatment of the Home: Fleas lay eggs, and the eggs fall off where the pet
    goes. This means that you must treat your house if your pet has picked up fleas. The life cycle
    of a flea is about four weeks, so even with diligent treatment, it will probably take that long to
    rid your environment of fleas. Different products have different levels of effectiveness
    depending on the flea growth stage (egg, larva, adult), so typically a combination of products is
    required. Some people use foggers with success, while others hire a pest control professional.
    Still others prefer less toxic, non-chemical-based and natural approaches as their primary
    weapon against fleas.
•   Chemicals used to control and kill pre-adult fleas indoors include Precor. This is typically paired
    with a chemical that kills adult fleas, such a pyrethrin (tetramethrin, pyrethrin or permethrin)
    or an organophosphate. These chemicals are usually packaged in the form of foggers and sprays.
    Three effective non-chemical flea control treatments for your home suggested by pet care
    writer Paula Dupy:
•   There are anti-flea mineral salt treatments for your carpets that can be professionally applied.
    One is available from sources such as Fleabusters, which by the way is a cruelty-free business.
    Fleabusters Rx for Fleas has an extremely low toxic level on par with table salt and less than
    boric acid powder, which is another effective home bug treatment. Rx for Fleas Powder works
    by dehydrating fleas, flea larvae and flea eggs in the carpet and floor cracks of your home. The
    mineral salt-type treatments should be effective for up to a year. For details on this and other
    flea control products, see http://www.fleabusters.com and http://www.xfleas.com
•   Amorphous diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled around baseboards, under furniture, in cracks,
    and areas you can’t reach with the vacuum cleaner. It is messy to use, but is effective and kills
    the fleas by causing them to dehydrate. Do not use the glassified type used in swimming pool
    filters. There is also a borax-based product available.
•   You can also make your own flea trap: Fill a shallow container, such as a glass pie pan, halfway
    full of water and add a couple of drops of dish soap. Set the container on the floor and place a
    light directly over it. A small gooseneck lamp or Tensor-type reading light is perfect. The bulb
    should be fairly low wattage. You don't want to heat the area too far beyond the water. Flea
    Treatment of Yards: Flea eggs fall off in areas of the yard where pets spend time. Fleas can
    reproduce in areas that are warm and moist throughout the day, so if you are treating your yard
    for fleas, focus on those areas that stay moist and warm and around the doors of the house.
•   There are chemical-based yard sprays made specifically for yard treatment, as well as
    companies that provide this service. Commercial treatments include Archer and FleaFix. You can
    obtain more information by doing a web search.
•   If you plan to use a commercial product, first read the label to make sure it's safe for use
    around pets. Some do-it-yourself approaches that can help you save money and avoid chemicals:
•  Spread nematodes in affected areas of the yard. These worms help eliminate fleas by feeding
   on flea larva. They are non-toxic and are available from companies such as Interrupt. You can
   get them through some veterinarians. Details at
   http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/defleacontrol.html .
• Ivory Liquid Soap approach: Rather than poisoning fleas, Ivory reportedly reduces and rids
   fleas, gnats and other bugs that have a complex trachea through suffocation. To use Ivory to
   spray your yard, use a garden sprayer attachment such as the one made by Ortho Sprayer. Fill
   it with Ivory and set the dilution dial to 2 tablespoons. Saturate the area, then let it dry before
   allowing your dog or anyone else walk on the treated ground. Using this method, people treat
   their yards every 4 to 6 weeks.
• Another home-made solution to repel insects from your yard (from Hints from Heloise): Make a
   solution of 1/2-cup of liquid dishwashing soap, 2 tablespoons of ammonia, and 5 to 7 cups of
   water. Use a bottle spray attachment with spray the solution to eliminate the insects.
• A good, fairly safe way to keep mosquitoes away is to spray your yard once a week with Simple
   Green, which is available at home and garden stores.
• A flea shampoo that contains pyrethrum or citrus oil is usually effective, and these additives
   are less toxic than harsh chemicals.
• When you shampoo your pet, wash around the neck first to keep fleas away from the animal's
• Before shampooing, read the directions that came with the flea/tick control products you use.
• Before bathing, plug the dog's ears with cotton balls and put a dab of mineral oil in the eyes.
• Dry ears and between toes after the bath.
• Shower hose attachments are available at home improvement stores. Some attach right behind
   your regular showerhead.
• Smaller dogs can be bathed in the kind of rubber storage bin available at big discount stores.
   Metal washtubs are available from agriculture supply merchants.
• FYI, here's a recipe for a gentle home-made shampoo for puppies and dogs with extra dry or
   troubled skin. 1/3 Cup Glycerin 1 Cup Lemon Liquid Joy 1 Cup White Vinegar 1 Quart of Water
   Mix in a liter bottle or a large shampoo bottle. Always shake the solution before use to mix the
   glycerin thoroughly.
• On a somewhat unrelated note, for a waterless bath, sprinkle baking soda on your pet and brush
   off the excess.

Related Webpages:
Remedies for Insect Stings and Bites, Hot Spots and other Skin Conditions: http://www.paw-
Summer Health and Safety Guide:
First Aid Kit: Keep a pet First Aid Kit in your home and car. Take the one you keep in your car with
you on trips with your pet. This webpage lists items to include: http://www.paw-
Poison: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24-hour emergency hotline at
Natural Remedies:
Tick Diseases: http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_1112.html

For printer-friendly versions of these Tips and other pet care and adoption information, visit:
Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc. P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

To be added or removed from this list, contact Robin at Tierneydog@yahoo.com

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