Great Activities You Can Share With Your Dog

Think back to when you adopted your first dog.  Did you dream of having a perfect, almost cosmic connection with your pet?  Dogs are amazing creatures but we often leave them to languish at home while we work, play and get on with our lives. Guess what?  You can still create that special partnership with your dog and we’re going to show you how.

There is a world full of fun activities you can share with your pet.  No matter what the breed, as long as your dog is healthy enough, the two of you can add excitement and fun to both of your lives.  It’s also the best way to build a lasting bond with your dog

Listed below are just some of the many activities that are out just waiting for you and your dog.


  • Animal Assisted Therapy: Do you have a dog that simply loves people and attention?  There are programs available to certify both you and your dog for therapy work.  Not only will you have the joy of building the human-animal bond yourself but you get to share it with others. For more information check out this link. http://www.redcross.org/pa/harrisburg/local-services/animal-assisted-therapy


  • Tracking: Do you own a highly energetic beagle or one of the other “nose” breeds?  Try tracking. It can be competitive such as events put on by AKC https://www.akc.org/events/tracking/getting_started.cfm or as part of a search and rescue effort http://www.searchdogfoundation.org/.  Either way, tracking allows your dog to use his/her natural ability to find and follow human scent.  It’s outdoors, great exercise and can be both fun and a life-saving activity.


  • Carting: Think carting is just for horses? It can also be a wonderful activity for larger breed dogs, many of whom were actually used for this purpose in the past.  Carting can be either a competitive sport or a fun past time. The choice is yours. http://k9carting.com/


  • Lure Coursing: This is a great sport for Sight Hounds. AKC Lure Coursing events use an artificial stimulant to awaken the natural coursing instinct. It is not dissimilar to track racing but much more fun because it is non-competitive and usually takes place outdoors in a large field.  https://www.apps.akc.org/classic/events/lure_coursing/getting_started.cfmhttp://www.asfa.org/


  • Agility Training: Agility is a fast and very fun activity for all those hyper, athletic Border Collies and other busy breeds.  It is basically a competitive (although you can just do it for fun) obstacle course for dogs and they LOVE IT!  http://dogs.about.com/od/sportsrecreation/a/agility_training.htm


  • Flyball: This is fetch on steroids and another perfect activity for high energy breeds.  Dogs compete in teams of four where they race over four hurdles, catch a tennis ball launched from a box and then race back over the hurdles to their owner again!  http://flyballdogs.com/FAQ.html


  • Dock Dogs: Really…what could be more fun than watching a bunch of crazy, happy Labradors, and other water loving breeds jump as far as they can off the end of a dock and into the water after a dummy?  If one of them is your dog, all the better! Check it out at: http://www.dockdogs.com/.


  • Herding:  It is an amazing thing to see instinct kick in on a dog bred for herding. Who knew all that ankle biting actually had a purpose? If you own a Border Collie, Cattle Dog, Sheltie, or Collie breed you may want to check your area for a nearby club or demonstration  http://bccc.pair.com/getstart.html


  • Earth dogs: In a Lab and Border Collie world it’s nice to know that the terriers and Dachshunds of the world can get their “game on” through Earth dog competitions.  These little guys are born hunters and these competitions celebrate them.  Check them out.  It’s a good time and no-one gets hurt. http://www.akc.org/events/earthdog/index.cfm

  • Hiking/Camping: If you are interested in something that is not group oriented there is always this standby.  It’s great exercise for both of you.

Hopefully we got you thinking about something new to try with your dog. Here’s wishing you both a beautiful and lifelong partnership.

Fun Animal Facts From Animal Family

 

If you think your pet is amazing wait until you read some of the fun facts we have complied.

  • According to a UK insurance company the most accident prone breed on the other side of the pond is the Labrador followed by Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, Springer Spaniels and German Shepherds.  The least accident prone is the apparently very careful Shih Tzu.
  • VPI Insurance listed one of their oddest claims as Harley the Pug who managed to eat 100 rocks.  Fortunately Harley was able to pass them all on his own.
  • Baxter the cat, another VPI all star, fell 11 stories from the window of his home and still lived to meow another day.
  • The longest jump ever recorded on land for a dog was in England where a greyhound jumped 30 feet and over a gate while chasing down a hare.  A Chesapeake Bay retriever made the longest Dock Dog Jump when he flew 28 feet in a California competition.
  • Did you know that while dogs produce about 10 – 15 different vocal sounds cats can make over 100 distinct vocalizations.
  • We all love dogs and cats but guess what the most common mammal is?  If you guessed rodents, you are correct. Mice and rats  out number us humans  and our pets.
  • Are you afraid of spiders? You may want to try harder to like them.  In a single year, spiders consume more pounds of insects than the weight of the entire human population.
  • Don’t like snakes?  You might want to move to Antarctica.  That is the only place where there are no reptiles.
  • The flea that bites your pet can consume up to 15 times its weight in blood each day.  It can live on average, from 2 – 7 months and if it’s a she lay up to 400 eggs in her lifetime.
  • The tallest living dog in the world is a Great Dane who stands at 43 inches or over 3 and ½ feet tall.
  • The tiniest, according to Guinness is a 4 inch tall Chihuahua in Kentucky.
  • The heaviest dog is an English Mastiff who weighs in at 282 pounds.
  • You think you hate the flu?  Think about how frogs must feel.  When they need to vomit they have to expel their entire stomach, manually remove the contents and then swallow the stomach back down again.
  • Finally, depending on the source, it’s claimed that the average cow can produce anywhere from 400 to 1000 liters of methane gas daily and you thought your husband was bad.

We tried to validate all of the information included in this blog.  If there was a Guinness World record we used that.

10 REASONS WHY RATS MAKE GREAT PETS

 

The common rat or Rattus norvegicus is seriously under rated as a pet.  Although relatively short lived, from 2 – 3 ½ years, rats can be a perfect first pet. Let us give you 10 good reasons to take a second look at the humble rat.

  1. Rats are small and easy to care for. They do well in a cage environment and in spite of their wild cousin’s bad reputation, are quite clean.
  2. Rats rarely ever bite.  This makes them a good first pet for children unlike mice, gerbils and some breeds of hamsters.  Male rats are  more docile than the females and can be quite happy sitting in their owner’s laps or perched on their shoulder.
  3. Rats are smart!  That’s why they are so popular for maze studies.  Rats can be trained to come to you, climb ladders, play on swings and many other tricks.  They are quick learners and love to perform for food treats.
  4. Rats come in lots of different colors and hair coats.  There are many different varieties of fancy rats to choose from.  They even have hairless rats for those with allergies.
  5. Rats have lots of personality.  Their intelligence also gives rats very distinctive personalities.  The more you interact with your rat, the more his/her individual personality will come out.  They can actually become great companions.
  6. Rats are hardy.  A healthy rat properly cared for rat will give you little reason for worry.  The exception is, sadly, female rats which are highly susceptible to the development of mammary tumors.
  7. If you want more than one rat, a pair from the same litter will usually get along great.  Just make sure you don’t mix sexes.  Rats, like mice, are prolific breeders and will quickly multiply if left to their own devices.
  8. Rats do very well in a cage environment.  For most rats, an aquarium with a wire lid or a wire cage with a smooth bottom would be suitable.  Non aromatic shavings, shredded newspaper or other commercial rodent bedding together with a place to hide and sleep, feed bowls and ladders or other enrichment items will make cage life happy for your rat.  Remember to keep the cage or there will be a build-up of unhealthy ammonia fumes.
  9. Most pet stores sell pet rats.  Unlike some of the more exotic pocket pets, rats are easy to obtain and reasonably priced. 

      10. Rats are easy to feed.  Again because we have been around rats for    so  long we, good commercial diets are available.  Lab blocks are available at most pet shops. Of course, rats like variety too.  They can be supplemented with commercially available treats such as yogurt drops, grains, seeds as well as fruits and veggies from the refrigerator. Rats can become obese if fed too many treats, so don’t over indulge them.

This is meant to be a quick over view into the wonderful world of rats.  If you think you might be interested be sure to do your research first.

Tips for Choosing the Right Puppy

 

            Spring is in the air and so is puppy love. This is the time of year when many of us yearn for a new puppy… what could be cuter?  Dogs make wonderful companions.  Just remember not to jump into pet ownership thoughtlessly. There are many factors that should be considered to ensure that your new puppy is the proper fit for your family.

  •   The first thing you need to look at is YOU.  How active are you?  Do you have children?  How old are they?  How old are you?  Do you live in an apartment, single family home or in the country?  Is your yard fenced?  What is your personality like? Are you assertive, passive or somewhere in between?  Do you have any disabilities or health issues?  Do you mind spending time or money on grooming your pet? How picky are you about your house?  Do you think pets should even be in the house?  The list goes on but the point is the first thing you need to look at is your life and lifestyle.  

 Once you have an idea of your parameters, it’s time to start looking at the dog. 

  •  What size of dog fits you?  Large dogs require more space. They can be more difficult for a petite or older person to handle. They are more expensive to feed, medicate, spay or neuter.  They can be a heck of a lot more work to exercise as well. As for small dogs: they require less of everything but activity.  Size does not relate to activity level.  There are some VERY busy small breeds. 
  • How about activity levels.  You need to be very honest with yourself about what activity level you can tolerate in your pet. Age and general health may dictate a small, quiet, older animal.  Are you interested in taking your dog to the dog park or out for a walk or run every day?  Even with a large backyard, most active breeds will require additional exercise.  If you’re a couch potato, many of the hunting and herding breeds may be too high energy for you. Think about your children as well.   If they are too boisterous and rowdy, they may terrify some of the more timid breeds. 
  •   Then there’s sociability.  Do you want a dog that loves everyone or a more reserved animal that may bond only to you or your immediate family?  If you love entertaining or traveling, be sure to get an animal that will enjoy it as well.  Clearly, a one person dog would not be a great idea if you usually have your children as well as all the neighbors’ kids running through the house.
  •  Emotional stability is just as important.  Some breeds are very easy going and unflappable.  Others are less so.  That includes many of the smaller breeds but some of the big guys as well. Again, this is particularly important if you have small children or an active social life. Do your homework and make certain you find a breed that will tolerate busy little hands and bodies.
  • Trainability.  Don’t confuse intelligence with trainability.  Many of the so-called smart breeds can actually be quite difficult to train.  Trainability should be thought of as the “will to please”.   So, if you insist on perfect behavior, do your homework and plan on spending some time in obedience classes as well.  But, if what you really want is a pet that will simply sit, lie down and not eat up the house there are plenty of contenders out there.  PLEASE just don’t buy a highly motivated Border collie or other overachiever if you don’t have the time to keep them busy. When not kept occupied these doggie geniuses may end up destroying your home out of boredom and frustration.   
  •  Dominance.  Unfortunately many people confuse dominance and aggression.  Most of the biting dogs we see in veterinary practice are actually fearful in nature.  Dominant animals are generally confident if they have a calm, assertive owner. In the simplest terms dominance can be thought of as the how hard your dog will work to get his or her own way.  Dominance is variable.  Some dogs may just be dominant over other dogs but submissive to people.  Dominance is not related to size either.  There are a lot of pint sized Napoleons out there.  Be sure to match your will to rule to that of your future pet.
  •   Hardiness.  Pay special attention to hardiness when selecting a breed.  Bulldogs and some of the short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds don’t do well in the heat.  Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and other short coated dogs are not suited to outdoor life in the colder climates.  Matted coats, burned skin, heat stroke or frost bite may all be the consequences of wrong choices made on your part.  Then again, some breeds have been so completed altered by human kind that they are born with an array of health problems just waiting to happen.  No matter what, it’s still best to know ahead of time.
  •  Grooming.  Do you mind brushing your dog every day?  How about a grooming bill once a month?  How about a really big grooming bill once a month? Would you prefer a non-shedding coat? How about a dog with almost no coat at all?  Do you know how to care for eyes and ears or nails and matted hair?  What about anal glands?  Every breed has different grooming care needs.  Don’t overlook this when selecting your dog.

 Great dogs can be found in a lot of places.  That includes shelters and rescue groups.  We wish you good luck in your search and hope that you have figured out that picking the right puppy involves a lot more than who’s got the cutest brown eyes.  Hopefully, you now know that it takes a well thought out plan that combines your needs with those of your future pet.  So be sure to use all of the resources available to you.  Read books, attend dog shows, ask your veterinarian, talk to your friends, talk to breed associations, do whatever it takes to make yourself aware and educated.  Then go ahead and take the big leap into puppy love.

 

Veterinarians Guide to Hedgehogs

We recently added a new pet to our educational animals at the Animal Family.  “Gnomeo” is an African Pygmy Hedgehog.  In spite of his prickly nature, he is not related to porcupines.  Even though Hedgehogs spines are quite sharp, unlike porcupines, their spines do not shed and will not become lodged in the skin. If frightened, a hedgehog will defend itself by rolling into a tiny, prickly ball.  In the wild, they are generally solitary in nature.  They seem to prefer solitude in captivity as well. Although Hedgehogs can be handled with bare hands, gloves are recommended.

As a pet, Hedgehogs are a small, reasonably clean, relatively odor free and non-aggressive. They will vocalize through quiet snorting, whistling or huffing sounds.     If handled on a routine basis from a young age most will become quite friendly.  It is easy to see why we are seeing more of them in practice

The average pet hedgehog can be expected to live from 3-8 years. In captivity Hedgehogs are nocturnal but will emerge during the day. They hibernate in the wild but this is not necessary in captivity and will not occur as long as temperatures are maintained at 75 to 80 F.

Hedgehogs have some unique qualities. They have a unique protein which inhibits the activity of snake venom.  This allows them to attack and eat snakes in the wild. Another unusual hedgehog trait is “anointing”.  If a hedgehog is exposed to a strong smelling substance, they will produce large amounts of saliva which they use to coat their spines.  Nobody knows why they do this but if you find your hedgehog covered in the cat’s fishy food, don’t become alarmed.

Hedgehogs require smooth walled, enclosure with a minimum floor space of 2’ X2’.  They can climb so make any enclosure tall enough so that the animal can’t reach the top with its front feet.  Do not put your Hedgehog in a wire enclosure. Regular cleaning is important if you wish to keep your pet healthy.  Newspaper, about 3” in depth, either shredded or pelleted makes good bedding. Corn cob or alfalfa pellets can also be used.   Do not use any bedding that clumps or any aromatic wood product such as cedar or pine.  Give your hedgehog has a place to hide that is not much larger than he is and easy to disinfect. Plants or rocks can be added as well but should be non toxic and easy to clean.  Provide a shallow pan of water for bathing as well as a sipper bottle. Make sure your hedgehog understands how to drink from his bottle.

Hedgehogs require regular exercise. Either a commercial exercise ball that is suitable for Guinea Pigs or an exercise wheel will work.  If you choose to let your Hedgehog run loose, be careful of carpets and other cloth material which can get caught up in feet as well as anal/genital areas causing injury.

Your hedgehog can be maintained on either low calorie dog or cat food or commercial hedgehog diet (2 -3 Tsp /day).  Make sure to add in small amounts of fruits, veggies (1 tsp) and insects (1 tsp).  Do not feed nuts and grains or milk. Like so many of our exotic pets, low calcium is always a concern as is obesity.  Clean and refill food and water on a daily basis. To prevent your Hedgehog from becoming overweight make sure to check its weight frequently.

Like all exotics, Hedgehogs will mask illness.  Therefore it is important for you to remain vigilant. In general, Hedgehogs are prone to dental disease including oral cancers, Ringworm, obesity and overgrown nails. They can also acquire Leptospirosis, Rabies and Distemper like virus although there are no vaccines available at this time. Mites are the most common external parasite we see in Hedgehogs.  A regular health check with a fecal examination is important to maintaining your hedgehog’s health. 

This is not meant to be an all inclusive guide to Hedgehogs.  We do hope it has answered some questions for you.  Feel free to ask us questions and to come in and meet Mr. Gnomeo.

Why We Love What We Do!

We really do understand that sometimes you wonder what motivates the people who care for your pets.  Is it just a business?  Do they really care as much as they appear to?  What really goes on behind the scenes?

The truth is that although we wish we could help every animal regardless of the circumstances.  Sometimes we can’t.  It is frustrating for us too.  So, instead, we try to work with rescue organizations, shelters and others. Of course, we do try to do our best by all our clients and to us…they often, really do become family.

But…sometimes, a case comes along where we can do something really  special.  That is what makes the story of the “Faceless Kitten” aka Jax, important to Animal Family. 

Jax came in terribly injured but we didn’t have to put him to sleep.   Doctor Rob donated his time and medical skills, the clinic donated the supplies, the technicians and assistants fostered and provided care while he recovered and Lacey welcomed him into her family.

Faris, one of our technicians, made the video that comprises our blog this week. It can be a little graphic because Jax had a severe injury but he healed perfectly so the ending is wonderful.

Are we blowing our own horn?  Yeah…a little but mostly, we just wanted to share one of our happier stories with some of our favorite people.

 

Just click on the link below to see the story of the Faceless Kitten.

The Incredible Story Of The Faceless Kitten At Animal Family Veterinary Care Center

The Faceless Kitten

 

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

 

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.” 

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are pure bred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

Davenport IA, Veterinarian Talks Explains Diseases You Could Share With Your Pet…but Shouldn’t

 

According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.

Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).

Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.

So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.

  1. Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
  2. Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
  3. Pets and food preparation do not go together.
  4. Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
  5. Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
  6. Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
  7. Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
  8. Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
  9. Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
  10. Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
  11. If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
  12. Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
  13. Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
  14. Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets

Davenport IA Veterinary Clinic Explains How Socializing Your Pet Makes Them Better Citizens

All dogs can bite.  We like to think that we can avoid any difficulties with our pets by simply choosing the “right” breed; not so.  Although you may not actually cause behavior problems in your pet, you can unknowingly reward them.  Since we know that it is always easier to prevent rather than change an established behavior: developing ways to make your pet a good family member and citizen should be an important part of pet ownership.

Biting is not the only thing we complain about.  Barking, jumping up, digging, house soiling, chewing on inappropriate items, food aggression and fear of strangers are just some of the things we don’t like.  Can these behaviors be prevented?  Of course they can.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of management.  Others require an active effort on your part to train and socialize your pet. Here are some ideas for keeping making your pet a good citizen.

  1. Teach your dog to sit.  This should be the first thing a puppy learns.  Any pup old enough to go to a new home is capable of learning to sit.  It’s OK to teach the command by using a treat.  The ASPCA has a great site that will show you how to teach a sit.  The importance of this command in your relationship with your pet is that sitting quietly is a prerequisite before any kind of interaction with you. That means that you don’t unthinkingly pet your dog should they bump or rub against your hand. Believe it or not if you are consistent about requiring a quiet sit first and socializing second, it will set a solid base from which to build your relationship with your new dog. 
  2. Better yet, try an obedience class.  There are very few dogs that won’t benefit from obedience training.  It doesn’t have to be a competitive obedience class and it doesn’t have to involve harsh methods.  Look for something that will help you with basic commands and routine maintenance such as nail trimming, tooth brushing and socialization with other pets and people. The key is to establish good communication with your pet from the beginning.
  3. Get your pet out in the world.  You can’t expect your dog to comfortable in the world if they never get beyond your backyard.  Once your pet is properly immunized, wormed and protected from fleas, get them out to parks, for car rides and long walks.  If your schedule is extra busy, consider putting them in doggie daycare but please don’t just lock them in the backyard.
  4. Spay or neuter your pet.  This can’t be said often enough.  The reasons for keeping a dog intact are very few indeed.  Hormones will always get in the way of training. Worse, they can cause dog to dog aggression and lead to health problems later in life.
  5. Children and dogs should always be supervised.  Obviously this is not only important for the safety of the child but for the pet as well. Children can’t read animal body language.  They are often at eye level with a pet and may be seen as lower in social ranking than adults.  Children need to be taught to how handle their pet gently yet assertively.   Even when pet and child are both trained, they never be left alone together.
  6. Take your pet to the vet for something other than vaccines.  If you happen to be driving by the vet’s office, stop in.  Bring the dog inside for some treats.  Let the staff pet them and then go home.  You will be surprised how much more relaxed your pet will be if you do this a few times. 
  7. If you run into a problem you can’t handle, call a professional.  There is nothing wrong with asking someone more experienced to help you with your pet. The key is to go for help before a problem gets out of hand.

This is only meant to get you started thinking in the right direction.  Talk to your veterinarian about trainers in your area if you’re unsure where to go.  Just remember to have fun and always keep your pet social.

Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian Itching to teach you about Fleas

 

Who hates fleas?  Everybody hates fleas!  Ctenocephalides canis or felis better known as the common flea is not a visitor anyone ever welcomes to their home.  For those of us who have had to deal with a flea infestation- once is definitely enough! Aside from the obvious “yuck” factor, there are a lot of good reasons to avoid this hopping, biting scourge of the insect world.

  1.  Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.  When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
  2. Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your children.  Everybody gets itchy.
  3. A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
  4. Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.  Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
  5. Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague.  This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.
  6. Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:
    1. Exposure to rat fleas or feces
    2. Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats
  7. Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
  8.  Fleas can transmit  Mycoplasma haemofelis a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
  9.  Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home. 
  10. Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 

I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.