Ticks, mites, and fleas—oh my!
Perhaps the summer heat has kept you and your best friend outdoors a little longer or maybe you are planning hikes for the cooler fall to come. Before you pack up for the next outdoor adventure, please beware that your pet’s fur is a warm, protective environment and a means of transportation for many of the creepy-crawlies out there. In fact, pooches are much more susceptible to fleas, mites, and ticks when their bodies are warm and sweaty than any other time. Not only are the little invaders bothersome to you and the rest of the family, but they can make your pup uncomfortable, sick, and less fun-loving than they’d like to be.
Here’s how to keep your little buddy out of harm’s way and make sure he isn’t affected by ticks, mites, and other creepy-crawlies.
An easy preventative measure you can take to rid your pooch of fleas and ticks is regular baths. Though your doggie might try to make a run for it, baths are important to master. With regular practice, Fido will get used to bath time and realize that it makes him feel better.
When you’re washing your dog, you can use that time to skim over his skin and search for abnormal bumps. Check any abnormalities closely; you never know when a nasty tick could be digging into your dog’s skin, especially if you’ve just been on a hike or a swim at the lake. Take a pair of tweezers and get the tick out from the head, or else you’ll pull the body off and leave the head inside (it’s gross, we know—but it must be done).
As for fleas and mites, if you’re able to catch them when they’re young and before they spread into your home, you’ll prevent a huge headache later on. These pests procreate quickly. If you notice them, even just a few, talk to your vet about medicine, and talk to a pest control professional about getting them out of your house. The takeaway: be on the lookout and inspect your pup frequently.
Of course, there is no way to avoid creepy-crawlies that is more effective than seeing your vet at regular intervals. Your vet will be able to check over your dog’s skin with trained fingers, searching for more than bumps: dry skin, sores, and other maladies that you might not pick up on. Mites and other bugs can cause many abnormal behaviors.
While you’re at the vet, make sure you talk about problems your pooch has, like excessive scratching, over-watery eyes, or a dry nose. Your dog can have a hypersensitivity to fleas that causes his constant self-biting or scratching. The thing is, you might not see any fleas. Sometimes, a dog with flea hypersensitivity will nab the individual fleas before you’re able to get at them. So it might just seem like you have a strangely itchy dog.
Get Friends in Clean Places
Another great way to avoid itchy bugs is to pay attention to the news or word-of-mouth information. When insect epidemics run rampant through cities or towns, your dog can catch a case of the fleas simply by being near other dogs.
If you keep abreast of what the local pooches are experiencing, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve and safely away from dog parks and other public places where mites can be easily passed around. Mites, for example, can cause all sorts of ear, nose, and throat allergies, and even topical allergies as well. Mites won’t live on your pet’s fur for long, but they can hitch a ride straight to your couches, bed, or living room carpet.
Other Ways to Avoid Pests
Here are a few habits to get into that will absolutely help your doggie stay fresh, clean, and free of insects.
- Keep a clean pet area. By sticking to a weekly washing ritual, a daily vacuuming schedule, and a bi-weekly crate washing habit, you’ll make sure your pooch is living the good life—free of allergens and bacteria.
- Medicine is a fantastic way to keep away fleas, as well as heartworm and ringworm, and in many areas of the country you’re required to give these things to your dog. Monthly applications through pills or topical gels/creams are ideal, and they even make medicine that resembles treats so dogs won’t spit it out.
Remember, working hard to avoid ticks, chiggers, mites, and other pests will not only help your dog live a long and comfortable life, but it’ll be less expensive for you in the long run, too.
Photo Credit: Puppies by emarquetti
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