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Fleas & Ticks: An Overview

Spring is a long awaited season for Mainer’s everywhere. The warmer temperatures bring along a promise of green grass, new leaves, and budding flowers. Unfortunately it also brings along bugs. Fleas, ticks, black flies, mosquitoes… the list goes on and on. All of these pests, if not properly protected against, can cause your pets a lot of discomfort and in extreme cases, can even be life threatening. There are numerous treatments available ranging from collars to shampoos, topical to oral, conventional to holistic. With so many options it can often be overwhelming to find something that works for your pets as well as your budget. But before you decide on a treatment, it’s important to understand the life cycle of the bugs and how exactly they affect your pet.

Fleas

Fleas have four different life stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult flea. Adult fleas only account for 5% of the flea population and one adult female can lay up to 40 eggs a day or roughly 2,000 eggs over her lifetime! The eggs are white in color and slightly smaller than a grain of sand. They are laid in your pet’s fur and their smooth surface causes them to easily slip into the environment where your pet is living (couches, vehicles, carpets, bedding, etc.) as they walk around. The eggs will only hatch if conditions are just right, a process that can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. After they hatch into larvae they will begin to develop over several weeks by eating the predigested blood, also known as flea dirt, left behind by the adult fleas. When conditions are favorable, the larvae will spin a cocoon and enter into the pupae stage. Once inside their cocoon the pupae are protected from most flea treatments and chemicals until they emerge as an adult. The cocoon is coated in a sticky residue that allows them to hide deep within carpet fibers making them difficult to vacuum or sweep away. The adult flea will not emerge from the cocoon until the presence of a potential host is made obvious, which can be as short as a few days or as long as a year. The adult flea must begin feeding within a few hours in order to survive, and the female cannot begin laying eggs until after they have obtained a blood meal.

With fleas it’s important to remember to treat your pet’s living environment just as much as your pet itself. Because adult fleas only make up 5% of the flea population that means that the other 95% is living within the environment. Unfortunately there is no quick, over-night solution when it comes to battling a flea infestation. This means that you’ll want to repeat the process of flea elimination in your home every 4-5 days in order to break the cycle. Of course preventing an infestation is always easier then battling one that is already established.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ticks

Ticks are an all-around nuisance and carry life threatening diseases that can cause an array of problems for both you and your pets. If your pets spend a lot time in wooded areas or fields with tall grass they have most likely picked up a tick or two in their lifetime. It’s important to check your pets regularly for ticks and remove them within 24 hours of attachment to minimize their risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases including: Lyme, Erlichiosis, or Anaplasmosis.

Make sure to check in and around your dog’s ears, eyelids, between their toes, around their anal and groin area, and their tail as these are all places that ticks especially like to hang out. If you find an attached tick, a tick key is a useful tool to safely remove the pest. Using your fingers, part your dog’s fur around the attached tick and lay the large opening of the tick key flat over the tick. Slide the key along your dog’s skin until the body of the tick is wedged in the narrow slot at the end. Continue pulling along your dog’s skin until the tick emerges. The head should still be attached to the tick’s body. Don’t panic if it’s not and leave the area alone. Much like a splinter, the bite area will scab over and the head will fall out in a few days. Make sure to clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. You can dispose of the tick by drowning it in rubbing alcohol and flushing it down the toilet.

Don’t crush or squeeze the attached tick, as this can force toxins back into your dog through the tick’s saliva. The same thing occurs when you put Vaseline or other substances on the attached tick to suffocate it while still attached. This can cause the tick to expel toxins into your dog and will increase their possibility of infection.

Just like with fleas, preventing ticks from attaching to your pets in the first place is much easier then dealing with them after the fact. At the Loyal Biscuit Co. we believe in using chemical-free, all natural treatments to protect our animals against not only fleas and ticks, but other biting insects such as black flies, mosquitoes, and even bed bugs. Here are just a few of our favorite products!

  • Mutt Nose Best U. Tick Me Off – Made in Maine, this sulfate free botanical blend not only helps keep pesky bugs off your pup, but will also soothe itchy and irritated skin caused by biting insects. Available for sale as either a shampoo or topical spray.
  • NEW! Earth Animal Herbal Flea & Tick Collar – These non-toxic flea & tick collars are infused with a natural blend of aromatic herbs and essential oils that are repulsive to fleas, ticks, and other biting insects. They are proven effective in repelling fleas & ticks for up to 3 months.
  • Earth Animal Flea & Tick Internal Powder – This highly digestible powder can be added to your pet’s food to help battle fleas, ticks, and mosquitos from the inside-out. The internal powder is a blend of nutrients and vitamins & minerals that can change the odor of your pet making their scent and blood undesirable to biting insects.
  • Vet’s Best Flea + Tick Spray – This unique blend of Peppermint Oil and Clove Extract is carefully formulated to kill fleas, flea eggs, ticks, and mosquitoes naturally and safely. Available for sale in spray bottles convenient for personal use on pets and home and yard use.
  • The Tick Key – This easy-to-use tick removal device is made in the USA from high-strength anodized aluminum. Flat in shape, it’s easy to store and carry wherever you need it. It is 99.9% effective in the removal of all types and sizes of ticks.

While essential oils are safe, they should still be used with care. Always monitor your pet after using a new product in case of an allergic reaction. If a reaction should occur, make sure to bathe your pet thoroughly to remove the product from their skin and fur, and consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. We recommend that you consult with your vet before applying a flea and tick treatment, whether it is an all-natural formula or a traditional topical treatment such as Frontline. Should you choose to use a topical treatment that contains chemicals, make sure that you ONLY purchase such treatments from your veterinarian directly.

 

 

Sources: Dogs Naturally Magazine: "Got Fleas? Natural Flea Control Solutions" and "How to Remove Ticks From Your Dog"

 

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