Friday, March 6, 2009

Warmer Weather = Heartworm, Fleas & Ticks

Now that the weather is warming up out here, I begin thinking about uping the parasite prevention for my pooches.

Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes. It only takes one bite to infect your pet. Once contracted, treatment can be effective, but a costly and lengthy process. Here, in Maryland, we often have relatively mild winters. Also, mosquitoes can survive the winter inside a home. I keep my dogs on heartworm prevention all year round. Heartworm preventatives can only be prescribed by veterinarians. If your dog has not been on Heartworm meds, even just skipping the winter months, a blood test for the parasite will first be required.

Fleas and Ticks are typically killed through products such as K9 Advantix and Frontline. These are highly effective and have low in incidences of side-effects. I highly recommend you discuss all your concerns and options with your veterinarian to find what will work best for you and your dog.

Some dogs can have reactions or develop sensitivities to these products; like my Golden. Many folks also wish to avoid use of chemicals. So I will share the natural flea & tick deterents we use.

#1 Checking the coat and skin thoroughly and regularly. The warmer it is, the more frequently I check. This may mean each and every time they've gone out. Don't forget to check between toes as well.

#2 Use of a botanical spray for the coat. I feel comfortable using those that contain Neem oil. This is a natural insecticide. I add a few drops to my favorite leave-in conditioning spray. Do not try to use pure Neem oil, full-strength - it smells rancid and could cause skin irritation. Natural flea/tick collars are also available. But, personally I feel better spraying the entire coat (except the face of course)

#3 Frequent vacuuming pet sleeping areas in addition to the rest of the house removes any eggs that may be lurking around. Dispose of bags frequently as eggs could hatch inside allowing fleas to escape.

#4 Any ticks found are immediately removed. Fleas would require an immediate bath using a flea control shampoo.

In addition, due to the high incidence of Lymes in our area, our dogs are annually vaccinated. NOTE: More kids in our area are contracting Lymes. Because we have kids I do use K9-Advantix on the dogs a couple times during the summer.

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