June 17, 2008 FLEAS!!!

June 17, 2008


It’s summertime and fleas are in full force again this year. What I’ve noticed last year and again this year is that the normal topical products such as Frontline and Advantage don’t seem to be having the same effect on the fleas as before.
I’ve heard from several of my clients who have always used the topical products that their dog is suffering with fleas even though they have faithfully used the products as directed every month.

Anyone who knows me knows how anal I am about fleas. I can’t stand bugs of any sort, but especially not fleas. They end up giving your dog or cat tapeworm which is even more gross and disgusting, and I make it a firm policy that all pets must be on flea control before they enter my salon, reason being it’s part of my house, and who wants fleas in their home? I am a groomer and I certainly don’t want fleas jumping onto my dogs or my clients dogs and getting a reputation of “I took my dog to the groomer and he came home with fleas”. This is WHY I am so anal about fleas. Talk about a business killer!

Do fleas become immune to certain products? Well to me, it makes sense that after a while bugs can become immune to things that kill them. Whether that’s just my opinion or fact, remains to be seen. What I do know is that science is always making improvements trying to combat the bugs on our faithful pets and there are new products out now available only from your veterinarian at this point. One product is a once a month pill called “Comfortis”.

I’m always leery of new products until I hear others opinions of them, but I was not in a position to wait any longer. Bogey, my almost 14-year-old Bichon is sadly, a flea magnet. If there is a flea to be found, it will find him. None of my other animals can have a flea, but no matter how faithful I apply the topicals they just don’t seem to have much effect on him. A week after I apply it, he will start scratching and I know what that means.

There have been enough scares with medications for people and pets and I’m not about to jeopardize the health of my animals by guinea pigging them, however, I was getting rather desperate and nothing else was working on poor Bogey. I thought I would try it once, one pill and carefully observe him for ANY signs of a bad reaction to it. I’m happy to report, he had no adverse reaction at all, and believe me if any animal will have a reaction to anything, he is the prime candidate with his advanced age, and being a fair skinned white dog that has flea allergies. The best news is he took the Comfortis pill a month ago, and when I bathed him yesterday; I’m thrilled to say not one flea! Hallelujah! I think I’ve found the solution for him!

While chatting with another groomer she mentioned that the new flea pill is working wonders on her clientele as well, she couldn’t remember the name, so I said, “um, Comfortis?” and she said , “Yes! That’s the one!” She runs a boarding kennel too and of course has the same rules for her clients, no fleas allowed.
Another thing I’d like to mention when you are combating fleas is to be sure to treat all of your animals at the same time, and treat your house, car, pets bedding and especially your yard for fleas. If you want to kill bugs, you have to get them at the source right? Many yard sprays available will kill bugs, just be sure to let it dry before allowing your pets outside on the grass. You don’t want your dog to come in, lick his paws, and ingest yard spray.

Comfortis is only for fleas and not ticks, so you may need to use a topical if you have ticks. Ticks carry Lyme disease and cause many other problems, ask your vet for recommendations. However, for fleas, Comfortis seems to be the Holy Grail this year, so I am going to use it. Put down the paper, call your vet right now, and go get some flea control for your pets. They’ll love you for it!

June 3, 2008 Peeee Ewwww! Skunked Dog!

June 3, 2008

Peeeee Ewwwww! Skunked Dog!

It’s that time of year again, the birds are singing, the lilacs are blooming and perfuming the air with their wonderful fragrance, you inhale deeply when suddenly you catch that faint aroma, what’s that? It gets closer…the smell overtakes you! It’s your dog running to greet you and it becomes obvious he’s tangled with a skunk.
It seems to be more common when you live in the country; however, in Attica there are many of the little stinkers that live in town. If you see one crossing the road in front of your car, you pray your brakes hold and you can stop in time before you hit or scare it.

Nobody is safe from skunks; they tend to like to go into peoples garages, and are masters at getting into trash. Skunks are nocturnal animals, meaning they prefer to be awake at night. They have babies this time of year, usually April through mid June. Skunks usually don’t attack unless they are cornered or defending their young. Spraying isn’t the first line of defense either, usually they will hiss, fluff up their fur, stamp the ground, and shake their tail but if the intruder doesn’t go away, watch out!

Skunks are actually cute little critters, but they do carry rabies and if you or your pet is bitten, it’s imperative to do the following:

1) Retain the skunk, (dead or alive), if possible to do so without further injury. If the skunk is dead, keep it refrigerated or on ice.2) Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.3) Call the local animal control department to pick up the skunk and have it tested for rabies.4) See your doctor as soon as possible (no later than 72 hours). Get a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the last 10 years.5) If the skunk is available for testing, the rabies test results will determine if you need a rabies vaccine. If the skunk is not available, then you should get the rabies vaccine as a prophylactic measure.

Skunk spray is an alcohol and sulfur based oily liquid that can shoot 15 feet away from the skunk. Skunks have enough musk in their gland to spray 5 or 6 times in one attack.
The musk causes severe burning, tearing and can cause temporary blindness (10 – 15 minutes) if it gets into the eyes. Flush the eyes with water or saline to relieve the pain and irritation, and if irritation persists, call your vet.

How do you get rid of the odor?
Well for years, people used tomato juice to de-skunk their dog. The problem is, you’d need a 55-gallon drum of the stuff to do much good. I prefer to use this tried and true recipe for de-skunking dogs.

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (available everywhere)
¼ cup of baking soda
1-2 tsp. of liquid dish soap (Dawn is my preference)
Put mixture into a plastic or glass bowl and use immediately. Do not try to save the leftover mixture, as it will explode in closed container.
I would wear disposable gloves to do the job and clothing you are okay with throwing away afterwards.

Wet the dog, hold your nose and apply the mixture to the areas your dog was most likely hit with the spray, which includes the head being VERY careful not to get this mixture into your pet’s eyes. I find most dogs are hit in the face, neck, chest or front legs most as they are nosy creatures who can’t seem to let the little skunks alone.
Let the mixture sit on the dog for 10 – 15 minutes then rinse and bathe the dog again in the mixture if necessary. Rinse well.
This mixture can bleach out black dog’s hair a bit, which is really no big deal, the hair will grow back in just fine. The most important thing is to get the skunk oil off and get the dog squeaky clean.
Instead of conditioner afterwards, I like to use a vinegar and water rinse that you can leave in the coat. Your dog may smell a bit like a pickle but hey, that beats skunk!

If your dog attacked and killed the skunk or got the musk into his mouth, well then my friend, you have a whole other problem. My friend’s dog had that happen and every time she opened her mouth, you’d smell the faint odor of skunk. It took MONTHS to wear off! We even brushed her teeth and used a doggy mouthwash!

Another way to help rid your dog of the odor, and this is a drastic one, is to shave off the dog’s hair. When I lived in West Point, my neighbor had a Puli named Moses. Puli are a breed of dog that resembles a rag mop. Medium sized with a curly coat that cords, rather like dreadlocks. As a groomer, that look drove me nuts. You don’t know how bad I wanted to remove those mats! Nevertheless, I know corded dog fanciers who love the look. Moses tangled with a skunk once. They didn’t want to remove his cords, and no amount of bathing would rid Moses of his new aroma. You knew Moses was around simply by walking outside when the odor hit you. The cords held that odor because they don’t shed the hair. He spent the last years of his life as a very stinky dog, poor Moses!

If your dog wears a collar, do yourself a favor, toss it out, and buy him a new one. It’s not worth trying to save the collar if your dog was skunked.
Prevention is the best cure for de-skunking, so keep an eye on your dog especially this time of year and keep your dog confined at night when the little stinkers are out looking for food.