April 15, 2008
We all know that fleas, being the parasites that they are, can cause a lot of complications to our pet. But do you know that the most common skin disease in dogs is caused by fleas too? Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) or hypersensitivity to flea bites affects our canine friends and is also one of the major causes of dermatitis in cats.
FAD begins with the bite of a flea. When the flea’s saliva-containing a variety of amino acids, aromatic compounds, enzymes, and other chemicals of various sizes-enters the animal, it induces allergic reactions. The next thing pet owners know is that their pets are infected with the disease.
Most often, dogs with FAD exhibit the following clinical signs:
- They exhibit intense pruritus or itching that spreads over the entire body.
- They experience skin rash and develop hair loss on the lower back, tailhead, hinder part and inner thighs. They may also be sensitive in the abdomen, neck and ears.
- Aside from itching, dogs with FAD are generally uncomfortable and restless. They spend a lot of time scratching, rubbing, chewing, licking, and nibbling their skin.
- Too much licking can cause their skin to be scaly, stained brown, and hyperpigmented.
- They may also develop an odor due to chronic itching and secondary infections.
In cats, FAD also manifests itself through itching, repeated licking, scratching and chewing. Cats may suffer from miliary dermatitis, which is characterized by ‘blackheads’ and hair loss along their back line.
The disease is determined by a number of factors-the animal’s history, age, clinical signs, presence or distribution of fleas, and results of test.
In making the diagnosis, one has to consider if it is the flea season or not since most cases of FAD occur in late summer, which coincides with the peak of the flea season. Age of onset is also crucial because the clinical signs of FAD are uncommon in pets less than 6 months of age. Generally, dogs manifest signs of the disease between one and three years of age. Meanwhile, due to excessive grooming activity, some pets may have very few fleas on them at a certain time but it does not mean that they are entirely free from flea allergies.
Part of the diagnosis is to determine and examine the presence of fleas and their excrements that may be seen in the skin of animals. Visual observation can be done initially. However, for an accurate diagnosis, it is highly suggested to ask the veterinarian to do an intradermal skin test, which requires the pet to be sedated lightly in order to inject allergen into its skin, detecting flea allergies.
Treatment, Maintenance and Prevention
The first step to stop flea allergy dermatitis is to eliminate flea infestation. Pet owners can choose from a lot of flea treatment options. They can use fast-acting spot-on products such as Advantage, Frontline or Revolution and oral medication like Sentinel. Flea shampoos, sprays, powder, and other types of flea medicines can also be used. The veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate treatment for one’s pet.
Once the pet is treated, it is equally necessary to rid the environment of these pets. Proper sanitation and spraying of insecticide in your surroundings can help. These will prevent fleas from infesting the pet again.
For more information on FAD, check out the Petcyclopedia article by Dr. Sally Gardiner.
Merck Veterinary Manual website. "Fleas and Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Introduction." Accessed: http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/71600.htm. April 11, 2008.
Sousa, Candace A. DVM. "Fleas, flea allergy, and flea control, a review." Dermatology Online Journal 3(2): 7; Accessed: http://dermatology.cdlib.org/DOJvol3num2/fleas/fleas.html.; April 11, 2008
April 14, 2008
Any fleas on your dog? If these parasites infest your pet, then it is best to treat the problem right away. You can choose from a number of flea control options available in the market. However, the most preferred way is to use flea medicines.
Testimonials reveal that flea medicines are the most effective and convenient way to get rid of fleas. But just a reminder, when selecting the flea medicine to use, don’t just pick anything at random.Study the types of flea medications first in order to come up with a well-informed decision. Doing that can save your dog’s life.
Types of Dog Flea Medicines
There are various types of dog flea medicines depending on the methods of administration. Some of which are:
- Flea Control Pill or Tablet - This refers to oral medication given to pets. A single dose of this treatment works within minutes by spreading a chemical that inhibits insect development in the body, killing fleas on pets. Brands of flea control pills you can avail of are Program, Capstar and Proban, all of which control fleas by interrupting the flea cycle starting at the egg stage. They are safe to use on pets but a veterinarian’s advice is highly recommended.
- Flea Foam - This type of treatment is easy to apply. It works similarly as a hair mousse, wherein you don’t need to bathe your dog; you just need to rub it through your dog’s coat. But since it does not require bathing, it does not ensure that all fleas will be washed away.
- Spot-On Product - It is an oil-based medication that is applied directly on the skin surface. It is safe to put on one or two spots on your dog’s back. Although it can be pricey, the spot-on is widely popular since it kills fleas and its effect lasts for one to three months. It also kills ticks, heartworms, ear mites and other parasites simultaneously. Popular spot-ons are Frontline, K9 Advantix, Revolution, Advantage, and Bio Spot-On-they can be bought at an affordable price at online pet supply stores. They are generally water-resistant so they remain even when you bathe your dog. It is best to get a veterinarian’s prescription to properly administer treatment.
- Flea Dip - A flea dip is a type of flea medicine that is applied after your dog’s bath. It can be used with a sponge or can be poured directly onto your pet’s coat and should be allowed to dry naturally. Although it can have a bad smell, it is a powerful medicine that keeps the fleas from returning to your dog for a short period.
- Flea Spray - This type of treatment is fast-acting and effective. Flea spray works by applying it all over your pet’s coat, killing fleas instantly after application. To become effective, it should be allowed to dry naturally. An example of this type is the Frontline Spray, which not only treats fleas but also some types of ticks and lice.
- Flea Shampoo - Bathing your dog with flea shampoo can kill fleas but its effectiveness only lasts during the bath. It should be done correctly and carefully to stop the fleas from jumping from the area you are washing to other parts of the dog. The proper way to do it is to let the dog soak in the shampoo foam for 15 minutes before washing it off. A flea comb can be used as well to rake through the hair for fleas that may be hiding in certain areas. The only setback in using flea shampoos is that it does not guarantee flea prevention after bath but it can serve as a good supplement for other flea medications.
- Flea Collar - Your pet can also wear a dog collar designed to prevent fleas. The collar is a device made of plastic that has an insecticide mixed into it. It functions by delivering enough pesticide to continually kill fleas for up to 12 months. The flea collar is created to efficiently kill fleas without being toxic to pets. Since it provides less direct contact, it is somewhat less effective than other methods but it does offer ease of application and long-lasting protection.
- Flea Powder - It is a type of medicine that is very easy to apply. The powder is put directly to the roots of the dog’s hair. This method can dehydrate and kill fleas during larval stage.
Now that you know the various types of dog flea medicines, you can then choose which products you would like to use for your dog. Keep in mind, though, that you have to consider the condition of your pet, its age and size, before using any flea medicines on them to avoid any adverse effect. If you are confused, it is always best to consult your vet before starting on any treatment.
April 10, 2008
The Story of the Wonder Tree
My name is Kari. People call me The Wonder Tree. It’s probably because of the neem oil they get from me. I just let them think whatever they want for what matters most is that Jojo thinks I am, indeed, wonderful.
I am a Neem tree. As I stand 20 meters high, the whole village and nearby fields are all within my sight. And because I am big and tall I became a living playground. Children play in my arms and hide behind my leaves, spying at lovers meeting under my shade. As for the lovers? They take solace at the thought that I can keep their secrets.
There are people who come for my leaves and barks to make into solutions for their ailments. They say I cure them because the oil they get from me is a very good antipyretic, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. Now those are really big words for a simple tree, but they do make me feel special.
I like all the attention they give me, but to be honest, there’s only one whose visits I always look forward to. Even when I’m napping, all my senses light up when I hear the sweetest bark in the whole wide world. My leaves rustle, then the birds resting on my leafy crown, sensing my excitement, sing a melodious chirp. This is how I always welcome my friend, Jojo.
I remember the first day I met him. He was playing in the fields, running here and there, pretending he’s a great hunting dog dashing after his prey. Then all of a sudden, he stopped and scratched. He was scratching furiously that his skin reddened. He went home whimpering and I knew then that he was infested with fleas.
The next day I saw him again but this time with his human. It was an old farmer. I pitied Jojo, for the little dog was still scratching and biting at his coat. The man reached for my drupes, peeled free the seeds and said to Jojo, "I’ll make an oil out of these neem seeds. It will keep those fleas away and heal your sores."
He patted Jojo on his head and off they went home.
The days went by, more people came and took parts of me that they needed. They kept praising how useful I was. They told stories of how I cured their wounds, cleared off their rashes, kept away mosquitoes, lice, ticks and flies. There was even a man who kept showing off his pearly white teeth and claiming my twigs made them perfect. I blushed from all these praises. But all this time, I kept wondering how Jojo is faring.
Then on a bright noon, Jojo came back barking happily. He was running like the wind, as they often say, with his golden coat flowing so smoothly. There was no sign of an itch as he was the poster boy (or dog) of a healthy canine.
I asked him if my seeds helped him with his flea problem. He barked yes and told me how the old farmer extracted oil from those neem seeds, added it to Jojo’s regular shampoo, then bathed my friend with it. He also made a spray out of the remaining neem oil and sprayed Jojo every now and then until all fleas were gone and his sores were healed.
"You are truly wonderful," Jojo whispered and gave me a lick.
I bowed my head and embraced my friend with my shade.
Because of Jojo, along with all those other medicinal reasons, people started calling me the Village Pharmacy. The sick came to me and I healed them. The dogs that were itching, they too came to me, and I gave them comfort. Only the fleas kept their distance from Kari, the Wonder Tree.
April 8, 2008
I have found a sure way to fight off fleas on my dog. Little did I know the solution has been in my kitchen all this time.
One evening I noticed my dog, Jetty, scratching furiously. I knew the reason right then: fleas.
It was already late that night to buy flea powder or shampoo so I rung up my next-door neighbor, Paul, to ask if he had any flea control treatment. Paul has three retrievers and with that number of dogs I assumed he had his own stock of dog supplies.
He said he ran out of anti-flea treatment. Instead, he told me to use a common household item. Vinegar. I never even bothered to hide my skepticism as the whole thing seemed bizarre. I told Paul I didn’t want to add “flavor” to Jetty, I just wanted the fleas off him. Paul laughed it off and assured me that it works.
"The vinegar will give your dog an odor that fleas don’t like," Paul said.
"But if he starts to smell sour, even I won’t like him," I replied.
"Don’t you worry. The odor is strong enough for fleas but too faint for us to notice. Besides, even if your dog happens to smell bad, will you love him less?" he said.
Good point, I thought so I tried it. And what do you know, it worked!
Here is the proper way to use vinegar to rid your dog of fleas.
- First, bathe your dog using a flea shampoo and rinse thoroughly (if you don’t have one, you can skip to the next step).
- Mix one part apple cider vinegar or white vinegar with one part water.
- Put the mixture in a spray bottle or wet a clean cloth with it.
- Spray or dab all over your dog’s coat. Avoid his eyes as it can easily irritate him.
- Do not rinse.
- Do it every 2 days until your dog is completely free of fleas.
To maximize the effect, add a teaspoonful of vinegar to his drinking water. It will make your dog’s skin more acidic which fleas hate. There’s no need to worry about upsetting his stomach, the dosage is too minimal to cause any harm.
After a few sessions of his vinegar bath and cocktail, I was blown away. Not even a single flea on Jetty anymore. Well at least none that I know of, since he has stopped scratching ever since. So the next time you’re making a salad dressing, leave some of the vinegar for your canine friend.
Fleas are one of the main hazards to your dog’s health. The sure sign your pet has them is if he scratches more often than usual. Most especially if he seems to incessantly have an itch. Good thing this problem is easily remedied with a combination of refreshing water, flea shampoo and your loving attention.
Let your dog enjoy his bath by knowing his preferences. Most dogs like being hosed down or sprayed while others would rather frolic in a pool or tub. Others like baths out in the yard under the sun while some prefer the bathroom indoors.
At the heart of every great bath is the flea shampoo. Buy only what is recommended by your vet or by a reputable pet supplies store. Use the proper dosage for the type of dog you have. And of course, read the shampoo manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
1. Use either slightly warm or cool water. Remember that dogs easily heat up.
2. Wet his entire body then apply the shampoo. First around the neck then to the ears and near the rectum. These are the places fleas would usually retreat to during a bath. Then lather the rest of the body.
3. You can also wash the face but be extra careful to avoid the eyes as these can be easily irritated. If in case shampoo gets in, thoroughly flush the eyes with water.
4. If your dog has thick and long fur, make sure the shampoo reaches the skin.
5. Let the shampoo sit for 5 to 10 minutes to kill off any remaining fleas.
6. Rinse thoroughly.
7. Towel-dry starting from the head to the body then down to the legs and paws. A dog’s shake off is not enough.
For total flea control solution, apply flea powder and put on a flea collar. You must also make sure that you keep your home free from infestation as a flea bath is just a temporary solution.
Now that your dog is squeaky clean and flea-free, let him run, play and just be his old self. You should now feel confident that in case he catches fleas again, you’ll know exactly what to do.
April 2, 2008
We all have pet peeves - the slow driver talking on a mobile phone in fast traffic, the telemarketer calling during dinnertime, the shopper with more than 50 coupons in front of you at the checkout line. These are just some of the seemingly petty annoyances in life that almost everyone has experienced at one time or another. But have you ever thought about "pet" peeves; those little things that irritate our dearest pets?
The littlest things, literally speaking, can have some major negative effects on our pet. These little things are called fleas. As little as they are, they bring with them a multitude of health problems for you and your pet. Flea bites cause certain diseases such as:
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
- Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum)
Of course, with fleas come their friends, the ticks. So to add to the list above, you and your pet may also contract:
- Lyme disease
- Human granulocytic and monocytic ehrlichiosis
- Relapsing fever
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Colorado tick fever
- Q fever
- Tick paralysis
Now if that list isn’t long enough to convince you of the perils of tick and flea infestation, I don’t know what is. The good thing is there are ways to prevent it. If you genuinely care for your pet, and for yourself, you will take the time and effort to read and understand what follows.
Prevention is the best cure; it’s no different when it comes to tick and flea infestation. It’s best to attack them first while they are small in number or not give them the chance to attack at all. There are various products available that can help you with your tick and flea problems and it’s best to be aware of them for you and your pet’s sake.
Flea Combs: Often thought as a mere grooming tool, the effectivity of using flea combs has always been overlooked by most pet owners. Using flea combs is best for ill, pregnant or infant pets since they are completely non-toxic. Combing also stimulates bloodflow and presents an opportunity for you and your pet to spend some quality time together. One of the drawbacks in using a flea comb is the time it consumes; it will take a considerable amount of time to thoroughly comb out fleas and ticks off your pet. Your pet will surely appreciate the extra attention, though.
Sprays: When using a spray, you do not have to bathe your pet with it, just be sure to cover all the bases. Spray all parts of your pet’s body and make sure that you do not get any of these products in the eyes - spray a small amount on a cotton ball and apply the product around your pet’s eyes and ears. Check the product label for directions on how often to use it.
Shampoos: Flea and tick shampoos help rid your pet of fleas and ticks already on it. Some have residual activity and continue to have an effect even after application. Check the product label to be sure. The proper use of a flea shampoo should be to work the shampoo in over your pet’s entire body and then leave it on for at least 10 minutes before rinsing off. Prevent your dog from licking itself while waiting. Again, remember to protect the eyes and ears.
Collars: With proper use, flea collars can be very effective. The right snugness should only allow two of your fingers between the collar and your pet’s neck. If you see any irritation, you may need to use another brand or product.
Oral Products: Products which contain insect development inhibitors are available as oral medication for dogs and cats. In the form of tablets, these are only given once a month.
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