You can’t see them…yet…but they’re here…FLEAS. And ticks.
The bane of dog and cat families across the country!
Fleas lurk in the grass, especially shady areas, just waiting to find a warm body to act as a host for its incredible breeding operations—a female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, and one pair of fleas can produce 20,000 fleas in just 3 months. Because fleas can multiply so quickly, by the time you actually see one, you could already have a full-scale infestation on your hands.
Even if your pet doesn’t go on regular walks or romps in the backyard, just going outside to do their business exposes them to fleas and ticks. Humans can bring fleas into the home on their shoes and clothes. Fleas will not set up house on humans, but keep hopping round looking for the appropriate host: your dog or cat (or rabbit or hamster). Once the flea has found its host, it settles in and starts biting and feeding off the blood of its host, finds a mate, and then the females start laying eggs (did I mention 50 a day?). The eggs fall off the host to the environment…like your couch, carpet, bed, and even car. The eggs go through a few more stages and eventually become adult fleas. All of this happens within just 2–3 weeks.
Fleas are a pesky inconvenience to humans, but can seriously harm our pets, especially older or sick pets. Fleas feast on their host’s blood, so one little flea bite is not a big deal, but imagine hundreds or thousands of fleas feasting on your dog or cat! Fleas can cause anemia, skin conditions, and even the slow death of your cat or dog if unchecked.
Ticks also lurk in the grass and wooded areas. Ticks transmit disease through their bites—to both pets and humans! So when you are checking/removing ticks from your dog or cat, use tweezers and remove the complete tick and put it in an air-tight container. You will be tempted to flush or burn the tick to make sure it’s dead, but hold off until you’re sure your dog or cat did not contract Lyme’s disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever—the vet may want to send the tick for lab analysis. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog or cat has been bitten by a tick—call your doctor if you are bitten!
Ironically, the commercial spot-on treatments to protect our pets from fleas and ticks can also be dangerous, especially, again, for our older and ill dogs and cats. Remember, these “treatments” are actually toxic chemicals that use nerve agents to kill fleas/ticks in all of their life stages. Because of increased reports of adverse pet reactions to these treatments in 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency evaluated many spot-on treatments, and in 2010 released its report. The report confirmed that spot-on treatments were causing harmful reactions: “incidents were minor, but unfortunately some pet deaths and ‘major incidents’ have occurred.” In particular, for dogs, smaller breeds were more likely to experience adverse impacts. In addition, for cats, exposure to dog products was a significant problem (whether accidentally due to misleading packaging or purposely). Cats are more sensitive to certain pesticides than dogs. The EPA also noted that the lack of data and pre/post-market surveillance limited the depth of its evaluation. The EPA is now requiring more stringent reporting of adverse reactions as well as more pre- and post-market testing. When interviewed by Consumer Affairs regarding the safety of spot-on treatments, Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, stated: “But I want to underscore that these are poisons. These are products designed to kill fleas and ticks and they do their job. We urge pet owners and others to exercise caution and be careful when using them. And read the labels carefully.”
So what to do to keep your dog or cat safe from both fleas/ticks and flea/tick-killing toxins? First thing is a healthy diet. Did you know that fleas and ticks are more drawn to dogs and cats that are not healthy? Pets who eat a more biologically appropriate food , such as raw or a high meat inclusion diet free of low quality fillers are less vulnerable to fleas and ticks, as they tend go be drawn to unhealthy hosts. Also, there are now plenty of flea and tick treatments that use all-natural ingredients such as low doses of garlic to repel pests. There are coat sprays, shampoos, and oral drops/powders that can safely keep your pet, you, and your house free of fleas and toxic chemicals.
Do you and your pets spend a lot of time outside? Then a multi-pronged approach is best:
- Use oral drops or powder in your pet’s food daily.
- When bathing your dog/cat during flea season, use a natural flea-repelling soap, like DerMagic’s Flea Bar.
- Apply coat spray once a week and before going into heavy flea/tick areas (like high grass/wooded areas).
More of an at-home family? Then probably the DerMagic Flea bar for baths and a coat spray a couple of times a week during flea season will work (flea season can start as early as April and last through October depending on the weather).
Nautical Dog now carries a wide array of natural, non-toxic flea and tick repellents featuring Earth Animal, Ark Naturals, DerMagic, and more—stop in and let us help you select the right one for you and your furry family.
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