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Parasites and Your Pet Dogs Health

It's on every dog (pet) owner's agenda to protect and see to it that their pet dog has the best possible opportunity to stay healthy. No matter how hard you try there are however certain threats that exist that tend to make the goal of keeping our pets healthy a major challenge. We as humans unfortunately are not immune since some of these same health threats tend to be our enemies as well. External parasites such as, fleas, Ticks, Lice, as well as different types of Mites are the culprits that tend to threaten the health of our pets (dogs, cats). We too are also victims since the choice of food seems to be (blood). Unfortunately these parasites can transfer themselves in many cases from our pets to us. Parasites of these types find a haven (food and shelter) among our pets mainly due to their fur which makes it a perfect place for them to live and to feed.

The parasites mentioned above are the most common that plague our pets and usually causes adverse reactions in your pets (dogs, cats) etc.typically, itching and inflamed skin, a dull coat, and bald spots. In advanced cases, your dog may develop anemia (blood loss) and become generally debilitated (particularly if he or she is very young, very old, or suffering from another condition).

Many of these external parasites carry secondary or internal parasites of which can be transfered to our pets during times of feeding (extracting blood) from their pet hosts, or humans also if bitten. Some of the diseases that these parasites can transfer are: The tapeworm (which causes constipation and flatulence) generally carried by fleas, and ticks can cause a variety of much more serious problems like Lyme’s disease and paralysis in pets.

Out of the parasites mentioned above Fleas is the number 1 most common pest. They’re small, jumping insects that are light brown in color, it's a little hard to see them because they move very quickly! Note: Although there is no blood in the carpeting in the home, fleas can still spread throughout the home by living and multiplying in the carpet probably because of it's close resemblence to the fur of our pets.

Fleas live off your dog’s blood. The life cycle of a flea moves very rapidly from stage one (egg) to stage four (adult flea), which means they’re capable of multiplying with staggering rapidity.

There is no mistaking a flea infestation on your pet (dog, cat). A dog with a flea infestation will scratch almost constantly, often at areas that fleas seem to favor: the ears, the base of the tail, the belly, and the stifle (the webbing of soft skin between the thigh and the abdomen).

It’s actually the saliva of the flea that causes the irritation, not the bite itself, and some dogs have a genuine allergy to this saliva (as opposed to a standard irritation). Dogs with allergies suffer much more significant negative reactions to a flea infestation, and usually develop “hot spots”.

These hot spots are areas of sore, inflamed, flaking, bleeding, and infected skin, caused by the flea saliva and your pet dog’s own reaction to it. Bald patches will sometimes develop too, from repeated scratching and ongoing inflammation.

If you think your pet (dog, cat) has fleas, you can confirm your suspicions by taking a closer look at his skin: you probably won’t be able to see the fleas themselves, but you should be able to see what looks like ground pepper (a thin sprinkling of fine black grains) on his skin. This is flea dirt (poop).

If you groom him with a flea comb (which is like a fine-tooth comb), try wiping it on a paper towel: if red blotches show up on the towel, you know that your dog has fleas (on a white background like a paper towel, flea poop shows up red: since fleas subsist on blood, their poop is colored accordingly).

An adult flea lays hundreds of eggs per day. Each egg will then become an adult flea, which lay hundreds more eggs of its own. One flea can become a major problem very quickly!

Fleas actually spend a small amount of time on your pet dog, and the rest of their time leaping through your house laying eggs and feeding on human blood, it’s not enough to just treat your pet dog: you also have to target his bedding, the entire house, all human bedding, and the yard (yes, fleas lay eggs all through the yard, too. Even if it’s cold outside, you’re not necessarily off the hook: cold weather doesn’t kill flea eggs, it just puts them into a state of hibernation. The eggs will still hatch as soon as it gets warm enough outside.)

You’ll need a broad-spectrum treatment which kills not only the adult fleas (which are the ones that bite), but also any developing fleas, and the eggs.

Prevention is definitely the best cure – you should keep your dog’s flea treatments up to date with the use of a calendar, and use a treatment that’s prescribed by the vet. Off-the-shelf treatments aren’t recommended, since different dogs require different strengths depending on their size, age, and activity levels. A particular benefit of prescribed flea treatment is that most are also designed to prevent other parasites (like mites, ticks, and heartworm) from affecting your pet dog.

If your dog already has fleas, you have two options: You can ‘bomb’ the house and yard with a flea-pesticide. These come as foggers (which coat each room, and the yard, in a fine mist of pesticide) and sprays (which are applied manually to each surface throughout the house and yard), and although they’re very effective in killing fleas and eggs, there’s one major drawback: they’re highly toxic to humans, dogs, and the environment. Depending on your priorities, this is probably the quickest solution to a flea problem (and will effectively wipe out the eggs, too) but if you have anyone in the house with allergies or a health condition – including pets! – you might want to think again.

A more health-friendly alternative is to target your pet dog with a topical anti-flea solution prescribed by the vet (like Advantage or Revolution), and to rigorously clean the house on a regular basis until the flea problem has gone. This means vacuuming each room thoroughly each day – put a flea collar in with the vacuum bag to kill any fleas that get sucked up – and wash all human and dog bedding in hot water as often as you can (once every day or every two days is recommended). You’ll be able to tell when the problem’s gone because your dog won’t be scratching, and his coat will be clear of flea dirt when you inspect it.

By no means should you use multiple products on your pet dog it’ll make them sick, since you’ll be overloading their system with toxins. Don’t forget to treat all the animals in the house at the same time: cat and dog fleas are interchangeable, and if one animal has fleas, they all will have them, even if some are not displaying the symptoms.
Flea collars are no longer recommended as a safe option for flea prevention, since the collars are highly toxic – vets have realized that placing a toxic material directly against your pet’s skin for long periods of time (flea collars have to be worn 24/7 to be effective) is detrimental to your dog’s health.