Protecting Fido from pests

By on August 1, 2009

With warm days and summer walks come a number of summertime dangers for our pets, namely fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

“Prevention is the key. Most people don’t know they have fleas and ticks in their house until it becomes a problem,” Dan Star, operator of Petland of Batavia said.

Mid-summer problems range from a flea-infested dog to a flea-infested household where carpets, bedding, and sofas provide adequate breeding grounds for the rapidly-multiplying, blood-drawing parasite. Studies show that 10 fleas can reproduce to a quarter of a million in 30 days providing breeding conditions are right—warm and moist. While outside pets may suffer more, indoor cats and dogs are not free of fleas.

“They can ride in from the outdoors on people’s pant legs,” Star said, indicating fleas are everywhere while ticks are more commonly found in heavily-wooded areas.

Lumps in your pet’s fur and excessive scratching are a couple of warning signs for fleas and ticks, respectively. Also white specks observed where your pet sleeps could be flea eggs; black specks, flea feces. Blood on your dog’s skin is another indicator.

New products, new choices
Today, there are many new products that interrupt the flea’s life cycle, preventing it from breeding. Flea products that control insect growth come in many forms. Some are pills; others come in liquid forms meant to be applied directly to a pet’s skin each month. Most of these products are available at Petland while others are prescription remedies available only from licensed veterinarians.

“While these new products have definitely expanded your flea control choices, no product alone is perfect,” Star said.
For instance, some of the new flea control products halt the parasite’s life cycle; yet fail to kill the existing flea. Some of the new flea control products do not protect against ticks. Many of the new products are different for dogs and cats.

More natural solutions?
Petland recognizes there are pet owners who prefer not to expose their pets to the systemic chemicals found in prescription liquids or pills as these remain in a pet’s bloodstream for varying lengths of time. These pet owners may prefer a more “natural” flea remedy. For instance, mixing a bit of brewer’s yeast into a dog’s food on a routine basis is not harmful to the pet, but reportedly creates an odor that fleas and ticks don’t like. Therefore, the parasites look for new hosts.

Dogs and cats housed outside also can benefit from having cedar chips in their bedding. It, too, has an aroma that repels fleas and ticks. This is one of the only methods of ridding newborn puppies and kittens from parasites as insecticides can cause serious health problems for animals less than four weeks of age.

Supplementing the brewer’s yeast and cedar chips with products like flea collars and powders that contain insecticides help mature pets during the worst part of the parasite season. But if your household and pets already are heavily infested with fleas and ticks, Petland says other measures should be taken.

“You must treat the environment first and then the animal,” Star said.

Lawns can be powdered or sprayed with water-soluble insecticides. According to Petland, there are powders and sprays safe for inside your house, too.

Pets that are allergic to insecticides may benefit from today’s technology. Electronic flea collars and pest control devices are available. These emit high-frequency sound waves reportedly disruptive to fleas, making them unable to locate their host. Electronic flea devices are attractive to environmentally conscious pet owners.

The buzzing pest you may not notice
None of us like to be bitten by mosquitoes but many times we forget to protect our pets from these buzzing pests as well. Female mosquitoes feed on blood to produce her eggs and while they often prefer birds, that does not mean our dogs and cats are not at risk. Luckily, some flea and tick medications can also repel mosquitoes.

“Protecting your pet from mosquitoes is more important than many pet owners realize,” says Star. “Mosquitoes carry larvae that can develop into heartworms, a serious condition that affects the heart and circulatory organs in our pets.”

Preventing heartworm is easy with just a trip to the vet. The vet will provide you with a monthly pill that prevents the development of larvae even if your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. There is even an injection given by your vet that can protect your pet for up to 6 months from heartworm.

About Elburn Herald

The Elburn Herald has been serving the Kaneland communities since 1908. To reach our editor, Keith Beebe, email info@elburnherald.com, or call (630) 365-6446, ext. 105. To reach our owner/publisher, Ryan Wells, email RyanWells@elburnherald.com, or call (630) 365-6446, ext. 107.

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