It's enough to make anyone itch...

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It's enough to make anyone itch...

Post by Caryll on Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:45 pm

A good article about fleas & treatments from Dog World

The small but mighty problem of fleas by Geraldine Cove-Print

Why is it when someone starts talking about fleas your hand finds its way to your head and the irresistible urge to have a surreptitious scratch overtakes us? The power of suggestion and in my case, a rather disturbing memory. I recall my shock many years ago when I encountered my first flea infested dog, what was left of this poor dog’s coat seemed to be moving all by itself and when the dog was gently placed in the tub all hell broke loose! There were fleas leaving the sinking dog in their droves! My astonishment was complete as the water turned red with the digested blood left on the skin by these horrible creatures, while the dog was made pristine in a relatively short time I didn’t feel clean for days. I quickly learned that by squirting the shampoo in a ring all the way around the dogs neck before I wet the coat I could avoid the mass migration up the neck and onto the head where it really is difficult to suds them off!
Fleas just love the modern house, all those cosy carpets to hide in and the warmth of radiators make it sunbathing weather all year long for the dear little souls. I wonder if the trend towards laminate flooring has been discussed in ‘Flea Bytes Weekly’. Humidity is the fleas best friend, they need high humidity to hatch eggs within 36 hours and really get a grip on your home so if you want to avoid chemicals or you have a high infestation a dehumidifier for a few days may speed the flea free process.
When the flea killer that was contained in a small drop of fluid that you applied to the dog’s shoulder blades was introduced there was deep suspicion about the product. Prior to these we were coating dogs and cats with a dust cloud of poisonous talcum or making painstaking efforts with a flea comb, and every pet household had a bottle of Bob Martin Flea Shampoo under the sink.
Have you ever wondered what is in these spot on treatments? Insect neurotoxins are the prime ingredient, it attacks the central nervous system of the bugs poisoning them immediately but here’s the clever bit, it doesn’t kill them too quickly, it allows the fleas time to go back to the nesting site, such as bedding and floor coverings. You’ll find these neurotoxins labelled as fipronil, imidacloprid or permethrin although other chemicals are available. Juvenile hormone analogs back up the poison by acting as a kind of flea contraceptive, the insect growth regulators make it impossible for larvae to develop into the next stage, no grown up hoppers equals no reproduction.
The active ingredients may only be ten per cent of the product so what’s in the 90 per cent that is left? Apparently ‘inert ingredients’, there are some 3,699 to choose from so personally I would really quite like to know but the manufactures have no legal obligation to declare their choice, so the chances are they will help with ease of use and stickiness to keep the liquid in place but because it is non food, we don’t need to know it seems.
For multiple dog households or kennelled rescues the spot on variety of treatment is cost effective and fast acting, with a high turnover of dogs in a rescue situation of course there has to be a programme in place to control the fleas and ticks as soon as the animal comes in. The problem also has to be identified; severe reaction to fleas can result in massive hair loss and lesions that could be mistaken for mange.
What of the dog owner who wants to avoid chemicals though? You could try flea repellent but be aware that some combinations can be just as damaging as declared chemicals. Owners of epileptic dogs should avoid any spray with rosemary as a constituent and while tea tree oil has proved a boon to dog owners great care should be used if it’s to be used around smaller dogs and cats and never used without dilution. Just remember, natural doesn’t necessarily mean non toxic.
Another product that is making a bit of an impact on the insect world is Diatomaceous Earth; this white powder has been around for a very long time, it’s actually made up of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard shelled algae. It was first discovered in northern Germany around 1836 and thought to be a type of limestone and used as fertiliser. A few years down the line and this powder was dynamite, literally, when Alfred Nobel used it as part of his recipe. DE has been used as a filtering agent, in cat litter and even as a toothpaste ingredient, and is currently enjoying modern popularity as an additive to promote skeletal and digestive health when taken every day, but I use it against fleas and flies. Only consider food grade DE and avoid breathing the powder in when you use it to dust the hot spots in your house, this light powder works on the exoskeleton of insects absorbing the waxy lipids causing them to dehydrate. Baking soda and salt together also dehydrate insects but DE won’t cause any digestive problems if your dogs lick it up, it might even do them some good.
You could make a flea trap as another alternative. Put some washing up liquid and a little water in a white plate then shine a desk lamp onto the middle, the fleas throw down their towels on what they see as a pleasant place to spend an hour or two then slip beneath the solution to drown.
Dogs pick up fleas all over the place so you really do have to be thorough when you’re grooming, you are your dog’s personal Nora the Nit Nurse. Nora may have been phased out of schools and is unlikely to reappear due to our litigious society, (can you imagine the red tape required nowadays for such an intrusion?) but fleas, nits and head lice endure. A flea comb is still a useful bit of kit in dog households, by combing through from head to tail and then emptying the comb onto a piece of damp kitchen towel you can see immediately if flea dirt is present by the tell tale red streaks.
Compared to our troublesome flea the sandfly is a real thug. This is the culprit in the canine leishmaniasis expansion, the parasites are transmitted when an infected sandfly bites. We tend to think of this as a problem in countries which are hot, predominantly along the Mediterranean coasts, but in the last few years, dogs testing positive for the Leishmania parasites have turned up in North America and Canada. An effect of global warming perhaps or maybe the sandfly has found a way to tolerate the extremes of hot and cold. The research continues and should be followed with great interest this side of the pond.



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Re: It's enough to make anyone itch...

Post by Eleanor on Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:47 pm

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