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Pet Care » Your Dog's Health

Dogs and Flea/Tick Control Products

Options available and tips on how to make a wise choice

If you're a new dog owner and you've yet to experience the joys associated with a flea outbreak, be forewarned. It ain't pretty. In fact, it can take both you and your dog to the brink of insanity and beyond. And the news just gets better; ticks are usually less noticeable but can actually do more physical harm than fleas.

Don't let us scare you though. We're simply telling you all of this to encourage you to take preventative measures instead of focusing all of your efforts on trying to get an infestation under control. Both can be done, but why not help old "Fido the Fleabag" have as scratch-free of a flea season as possible and do what you can now?

You have two main categories of options when it comes to controlling fleas and ticks. There's the medicated pathway and then there's the "more natural" route. We don't mean that to sound as if it has a slanted bias - it's simply the best way to describe the classification of products.

Medicated Flea and Tick Control Products

We're not just referring to the numerous "once-a-month" topical and oral products that have become so popular during the last few years. We're also talking about the medicated flea and tick control items that come in the form of collars, foggers, liquid "dips," outdoor sprays, powders, shampoos, surface sprays, and towelettes.

Many of these products work by killing the offending pest upon direct contact or by the ingestion of the product. Others prevent the developmental progression of their various life stages, such as hindering the hatching of eggs that have been laid by fleas that have had contact in one manner of another with the control product.

While not all of these methods of control involve the use of an insecticidal ingredient, all of them do have potential severe side effects. We can't warn you enough to research these products carefully prior to ever using them on your beloved dog. Know what to expect and how soon to expect it, good, bad, or otherwise. Talk with your veterinarian if you have any unanswered questions and/or concerns.

These products can be extremely effective at both preventing and controlling an infestation, but weigh their risks accordingly. You'll either swear by their use or swear at them.

"Natural" Flea and Tick Control Products

While not always as effective as their medicated counterparts, the possible harmful effects of using such natural products are usually greatly diminished. Your choices will generally involve the use of herbal/botanical applications in the form of collars, powders, shampoos, surface sprays, and topical lotions/mists/etc, as well as essential oils, homeopathic remedies, and the use of products that contain diatomaceous earth and/or boric acid - both which basically act by dehydrating the offending critter. Other natural approaches include the use of flea combs, flea traps, and ultrasonic repellents.

Suffice it to say, a regularly-schedule vacuuming of your house will also go a long way towards naturally managing your flea population. Just make sure to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag or empty the containment canister outside immediately upon completing your vacuuming. As another preemptive strike tactic, you can attempt to build up your dog's immune system by supplying him or her with foods, supplements, and/or treats that contain such ingredients as brewer's yeast, garlic, and essential fatty acids - compounds that have been reported to aid in the overall fight against fleas and ticks.

The bottom line when it comes to choosing a flea and tick control product for your dog is to choose wisely. Read the labels, heed the cautions, pick a product that's safe for your dog's age and health status, and be consistently vigilant. Your attention to the small details will mean a safe, healthy, and hopefully scratch-free flea season for both you and Fido (who's no longer a fleabag).

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