As February winds down and we head into March, Spring and warmer temperatures are just around the corner. This means back to long walks outside and playing in the yard for our fur babies. Inevitably, this also means them being prone to pests like fleas and ticks.
Pests attached to your pup can easily be carried into your home, possibly causing an infestation. A flea infestation can be quite an unpleasant nuisance. However, pests such as ticks are more dangerous as they are capable of transmitting disease.
The most significant risk of ticks is not that they will take over your home, but their propensity for feeding on many different animals, from mice and deer to opossums. It takes only one bite from a tick to transmit multiple tick-borne diseases, including:
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
So what steps can we take to prevent pest like these from affecting our dogs?
Over the last decade or so, there has been an increasing trend of people using natural treatments for ailments. Whether using roots, herbs, essential oils or seeds, people are finding ways to avoid some of the chemicals that are in conventional medicines.
Although topical and oral flea and tick medications are safe for dogs, they can have side effects. Some of the side effects are as follows:
- A wet patch of fur is a universal sign seen with a topical medicine. The patch or fur around the area of the application appears to be wet for several hours.
- Hair loss is another common side effect that is observed in pets. There is a considerable hair loss or hair thinning around the area of application.
- Skin irritation such as itchiness and redness of the skin at the site of application is often observed. However, some pets try to scratch at the area of application and spread the medication to other areas including face and eyes. This can be dangerous and requires medical attention.
- Loss of appetite is common among animals that lick the irritated application spot. By doing so, the animal ingests some of the medication that leads to stomach upset and loss of appetite.
- Animals experience excess salivation and uncontrollable drooling if they accidentally ingest the topical medication.
- Other uncommon symptoms include neurological and psychological effects, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems, seizures and trembling, and allergic reactions.
- If these signs persist, it is recommended to seek veterinary assistance.
So you may be asking yourself, “Are there any natural treatments to prevent my dog from getting fleas and ticks?” The answer is yes!
Fleas dislike citrus, so try sprinkling some fresh-squeezed lemon, orange or grapefruit juice on your dog’s fur (being careful to avoid her eyes) — and remember lemon juice can lighten dark hair.
Add Natural Predators
Nematodes are a type of beneficial microscopic roundworm that eats flea larvae.
You can find them at garden centers and pet stores.
Add them to your backyard, and you’ll likely notice a reduction in flea populations within two days.
Ladybugs are another natural predator of fleas and can also be found at garden stores.
Geranium, lemongrass and other essential oils (neem and catnip oil) may help deter mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other pests from attacking your dog or cat.
Along with natural methods of determent, there are also a few steps you can take to lessen the chance of a pest infestation.
Take a Bath
Fleas can’t hold on to your pet’s hair, so a dip in a warm tub of water will cause many fleas to fall off into the water.
Bathing your dog regularly is also important, as fleas are less attracted to clean animals.
Consider peppermint or neem shampoo for an added anti-parasite kick.
After the bath, use a flea comb to remove any remaining fleas.
Place your pet on a light-colored towel to catch any fleas that fall off and dip the comb into a bowl of soapy water after each swipe.
Clean Your Home Thoroughly and Regularly
One of the key strategies for controlling fleas and ticks involves making your home less hospitable to such pests.
To do so, vacuum your home often (carpets, floors, furniture, etc.) and empty the vacuum canister immediately if fleas are present.
Wash bed linens, pet bedding and throw rugs frequently.
Consider Protective Clothing
If you are spending time in an area where ticks are likely, such as a wooded or grassy area, consider putting a doggy t-shirt on your dog to help keep off ticks.
You can even cut old socks and put them on your dog’s legs (leg-warmer style) for added protection.
Do be sure, however, that the clothing is comfortable for your pet and does not cause her to overheat.
Be ready for spring with these helpful tips and treatments…and make sure to share this article with all of the dog moms and dads in your life!