Spring has belatedly and begrudgingly arrived in Ohio and with it comes the opening day of flea and tick season. I have already pulled 8 ticks off Bingley, but thankfully no fleas. Yet.
Removing ticks is a nasty business and it requires a certain delicacy. Recently I posted an item on my facebook page about using liquid soap to remove the hedious pests. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Positive-Connection-Dog-Training/119922748025841?ref=hl) I asked if anyone had used this method and did it work. Friend and veterinarian, Dr. Wendy McIlroy, said that yes, it would work as the ticks have to breath and will raise their heads to get air. The problem, according to fellow trainer, Vicky Shields, is that it stresses the tick and therefore it might release disease ridden saliva into the dog. Dr. Wendy agreed with this statement and the conversation turned to the best way to trap a tick. Apparently, a tick loop quickly and easily removes ticks without undue stress (much less killing them), thereby allowing you to harass them to your heart’s content when they are off of your dog.
It was hard to contain my excitement over this revelation, and I promptly went online in search of the mildly elusive tick loop. The company who makes tick loops is located in Sweden, but they are available on Amazon. (http://www.amazon.com/Tick-Removal-Tool-Prevent-Disease/dp/B001FMGJ8O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400534856&sr=8-1&keywords=tick+loop) I also discovered the tick key, and it looked promising, so I ordered some of those too. (http://www.amazon.com/THE-TICK-KEY-The-Tick/dp/B000R1D3KQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400534919&sr=8-1&keywords=tick+key) (Rumor has it that the Tick Key is available at REI, and happy day, we have a brand new REI at Easton. Rock walls and tick removal systems in one location! Seriously, does it get any better?) Amazon assures me that the items are on the way so when I get them and have an opportunity to use them, I will update this post on their effectiveness.
Fleas. I think I despise them even more than ticks. We had a fleas infestation late last summer and it took about 6 weeks to really get rid of all of them. It required some diligence on my part, especially to vacuum the house everyday. It seems that fleas do not survive vacuuming of any kind, so part of my daily ritual was to vacuum every room and dog bed in the house. I also washed all the dog’s bedding several times, cleaned and vacuumed crates, and did a daily inspection of each dog for fleas. Since flea infestations can last for months, I was pleased that we were able to conquer the nasty creatures in 6 weeks. My recommendation is that during flea season, if you see any of the blood sucking aliens around, start vacuuming! I dropped the ball on flea protection near the end of summer and didn’t stay on top of vacuuming as I should have and I paid the price.
Flea and tick prevention is something that is fairly controversial amongst dog people. I have looked at the different sides of the issue and at various methods of flea and tick control, and I am not promoting one method over another. I recommend that you talk to your vet and read up on various products before you make a decision as to what you want to do. I would caution you that if you live in an urban setting, do not think your dog will not pick up ticks. Bingley got 4 of his ticks from our back yard. Ticks carry diseases such as Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis, that require veterinary attention, and personally, I am inclined to want to prevent rather than treat them.
I have used a variety of natural and manufactured products for my dogs. The two products that helped to finally eradicate the flea infestation were Capstar (an oral medication that kills fleas quickly, but is not long lasting), and the new Frontline Tritak, which kills fleas in minutes rather than hours. I had forgotten to do the August Frontine application and the fleas took advantage of me. When I saw that Hudson had several fleas on him, I vacuumed, washed bedding, gave every dog a Capstar and a good bath, and used Frontline Plus. After ~4 weeks, I gave each dog another Capstar and used Tritak for the first time. Within a short time, the fleas were gone. I, like a lot of owners, do not like putting this stuff on my dogs, but I have to admit it worked as promised and I was glad to be rid of the pests. Talk to your vet to see if it is right for your dog, and if you are interested in holistic or natural flea protection, stop in at Bath and Biscuits, 1616 Columbus Rd, 587-0011, and chat with owner Danielle Wilson.
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