Every solution to the perennial flea problem poses health risks. Here is what you need to know to protect your whole family.
In some parts of the world, I hear, fleas are not much of a problem. I’ve never been to those parts of the world. If you and your dogs live there, I suggest that you never relocate. Fleas cause dozens of canine health problems, from severe allergies (more dogs are allergic to flea bites than to anything else), damaged skin, infections and “hot spots,” worn teeth (from chewing the itchy flea bites), anemia (from a heavy infestation), and tapeworms (tapeworm larvae are often present inside fleas; when dogs consume infected fleas in the process of chewing their flea bites, they unwittingly become tapeworm hosts, as the worms develop in their digestive tract). And of course, fleas can also torment other household members, especially felines and humans.
Depending on where you live, fleas might be a minor seasonal irritation or a serious year-round problem. Some dog owners are able to control occasional infestations with nothing more than a flea comb and intensive house-cleaning. (For the uninitiated, flea combs have very fine teeth that are so close together that fleas get lodged between the teeth when you comb the dog, enabling you to trap and kill the offending insects. And one can stop a flea population from expanding if you vacuum, mop, and wash the dog’s bedding frequently – like, daily for a few weeks. Water kills flea larvae and eggs.)
But if your infestation is more serious, or your dog is super-allergic to flea bites, you may consider buying and using one of the many chemical treatments that kill or control fleas.
Of course, every product on the market has the potential for harm. Some can make certain dogs sick; some are toxic to cats; some may even pose risks to children or chemically sensitive humans in your home. But all of the products listed here are safe for most dogs (and other household members) most of the time – when used strictly as directed, and never when contraindicated.
It’s incumbent on you, however, as your dog’s guardian, to do everything in your power to educate yourself thoroughly about the products available for treating a flea infestation. Because it’s completely possible to poison your dog with a product that your best friend – or even your veterinarian! – recommended and used on their own dogs.
Continue reading at Dogs Naturally Magazine.