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April 15, 2014 Posted by: Ron Rutherford
Ron Rutherford

Do you remember the lice outbreaks in elementary school? The school nurse would come into the classroom and run a fine-tooth comb through everyone’s hair. Whoever it was who had lice would be treated like a pariah and sent home to endure smelly shampoo and more combing.

That’s exactly how your pup feels when he gets fleas, except oftentimes, dogs are hyper-allergic to these infestations. They will itch until their hair falls out because they can’t tell you, “Hey mom, my head itches.” During the spring and summer months, be sure to look out for your pup’s itch so you can cure the fleas before they take over your dog and your house.

Where fleas come from

These small brown insects prefer temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees, and humidity levels of 75 to 85 percent. Unless you live in Alaska, you have a potential problem during spring and summer. The reason is: you are unable to create a protective bubble shielding your family and pets from germs and infestations. Unfortunately, because of this, any time your dog goes outside, he has a possibility of getting fleas. Fleas come from host animals and a variety of areas. Some of these include:

  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Germs/bugs on your shoes and clothing
  • Your house
  • The vet or groomer
  • Dog parks
  • Kennels
  • Back yards

Like I said, it’s pretty hard to protect your dog from the entire outside environment, especially if you have an active pup. However, fleas do need to be taken care of quickly, not only for your pup’s sanity, but also for your health. Here are a few diseases fleas can cause:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Bartonellosis
  • Plague
  • Tapeworm

And here’s a sampling of the conditions that fleas can transmit to, or cause, in you and your family:

  • Scratch Fever
  • Plague
  • Murine Typhus

So if you see the warning signs, and you see the itching, there are a few tools to help this process become as painless as possible.

What to do when the itching starts

Step 1: Wash your dog with an oatmeal formula shampoo. While you’re at it, I would make sure your kids and spouse do the same.

Step 2: Put on the flea products: There are a wide variety of flea products on the market today, and in some cases, it is even possible to get rid of the fleas by treating only the pet. Some of these flea products do not harm the adult flea, but instead prevents her eggs from hatching, thus breaking the life cycle of the flea; with no reproduction, the flea population eventually dissipates as long as the pet isn’t coming into contact with new fleas continually. There are also other flea products that will kill all the fleas that are currently living, as well as leave a stench that will prevent any other fleas from hosting. You can get these products at any pet care facility.

Step 3: Clean everything in the house. Be sure to clean bedding, dog beds, sheets and towels.
Final Step: I would suggest, if this is a reoccurring problem, to also flea spray your yard and around your house.

The worst thing about lice in grade school was the ridicule when you went back to school. Everyone seemed to know about your lice and for a week, no one would sit by you. Fortunately for your pup, the other dogs in the neighborhood won’t know the difference, but they may be jealous of his shiny coat thanks to that oatmeal bath!

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