Bugs, bugs, bugs!
So many factors have favored the bugs in our area this year. The resulting flea and tick populations have overwhelmed our community. The dogs who have traditionally fared very well with their preventives are collecting a concerning number of the unwanted pests this year, to the confusion and dismay up their humans. The fleas are particularly bad right now. I have had so many conversations with my clients about how to handle the insect challenge, that I couldn't help feel like this topic wanted some attention.
First, I would like to start by stating "THE PRESENCE OF FLEAS AND TICKS DOES NOT MEAN YOU, YOUR DOG OR HOME ARE DIRTY!"
Second, just because you never see them, doesn't mean they haven't been there. Bites can itch for days after, and in extreme or allergic cases, up to 3 weeks.
Thirdly, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, skunks and stray cats can all carry fleas within jumping range of your yard, walking path, dog park and even open windows and doors as they are so small that bug screens are like door frames so even the most bug-free homes are vulnerable to the occasional exposure to fleas.
Signs of fleas: The quick itch. When your dog goes from 0 to "Oh that itches! Gotta scratch!" The itch can occur just about anywhere but commonly is seen on the rump near the tail, shoulder/neck area, belly/groin area and the paws/toes. Again, just about anywhere. Scratching can get persistent, even agitated as bites layer on top of each other. Some dogs experience red swollen skin and fur loss. Please see your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog's health, or if they show any extreme signs of fleas, as complications such as infections can exaggerate the condition.
How to deal with fleas: Prevention is always better than a fix but as I have already mentioned, that is not easy at the moment. You can take some immensely helpful precautions though. (Note, I do not receive any compensation for this advice, product recommendations or my opinions.) Always follow the directions exactly for both safety and efficacy no matter what method you choose, for all forms of pest treatments. 1) Treat your yard with a flea and tick treatment like Wondercide or diatomaceous earth (for a more natural approach) Be sure to get the areas around your dryer vents and window sills, under porches and under bushes and trees. 2)Treat your home. There are so many options for in-home pest resolution/prevention treatments that you are sure to find one to suit your budget and personal situation. I like Vet's Best brand flea and tick home spray as I find most dogs tolerate it very well, it smells nicely spicy and it works well in my salon where I encounter all kinds of dogs. Be sure to get under furniture, rugs, heaters, etc. 3) Treat your dog. Most people already opt to have their dog on a regular oral, topical or collar preventative but most people don't think about the daily natural preventatives they could use. You can use a healthful, leave-in hydration spray with mint and eucalyptus to repel the bugs before the bite. Never use products meant for other species (humans, horses, etc), as dogs have a very unique range of tolerances and you don't want to expose them to anything harmful. You can order a custom, breed and pup specific hydration spray, prepared by a Science of Skin certified grooming professional at Give a Dog a Bath, call for a free consultation. When sprayed just prior to going outside this will drastically minimize your dog's total insect contacts, as they will smell terrible to the bugs, but not to you.
The best advice I can give is to think like a bug, if only briefly, to chase them out of your home, off your pup and keep them away, once they're gone. Small, dark areas shelter unwanted pests. Good luck and for advice, or products, please call 413-663-4819.