Category Archives: fleas

Debunking Seven Myths About the Mighty Flea

By Julia Williams

Fleas. The very word can strike fear into your heart. Anyone who’s ever waged war on these nasty blood-sucking pests knows how difficult and time consuming it can be to keep their pet and their home flea free. Fighting fleas is hard work, but it’s an important part of responsible pet ownership. The first weapon in the battle against this menace is knowledge. Here are some common myths about fleas.

Myth #1: A few fleas are no big deal. The truth is, a few fleas can quickly turn into a full blown infestation, thanks to this pest’s incredibly fast reproduction rate – a single female flea can lay one egg every hour! Left untreated, it’s estimated that ten fleas can generate over 267,000 offspring in just one month. Moreover, for every adult flea you see on your pet, there are typically ten or more developing in your pet’s environment.

Myth #2: Fleas are just a harmless annoyance. Fleas do bother us and our pets, alright, but they can also create serious health concerns. Fleas can cause anemia in puppies and kittens, and can even kill them if they’re not treated soon enough. Some adult dogs and cats are highly sensitive to flea bites, and just a few bites can result in a skin irritation called flea-allergy dermatitis. Intense itching from fleas can cause a secondary bacterial infection, lesions and hair loss, and fleas that are swallowed by your pet can transmit tapeworms.

Myth#3: Healthy pets don’t get fleas. Although it is true that a healthy animal is a less attractive host for fleas, it’s no guarantee. Even pets that are in tip-top health can get fleas, especially if you live in a heavily infested region or a warmer climate where fleas are more prevalent. Feeding your dog or cat a high quality pet food such as CANIDAE can help to keep them in good health and make them less desirable to fleas.

Myth #4: Keeping a clean house can prevent fleas. Unfortunately, even spotlessly clean homes can have fleas. These nasty pests hitch a ride into your home by jumping on pets while they’re outdoors. Even homes without pets can have fleas, because they can be brought in on your clothes and shoes, and once inside they start reproducing faster than rabbits. Fleas, eggs and the developing larva can hide in carpeting, furniture, in cracks of hardwood floors and baseboards. Thoroughly cleaning your home, your pet’s bedding and places where your pet spends time does help in the fight against fleas, but this alone is not enough to prevent them or eradicate them completely.

Myth #5: Treating the pet alone will suffice. In reality, if you don’t treat your home and yard too, you’re just wasting your time and money. Immature fleas (eggs, larva and pupae) develop off of your pet, so fully solving a flea problem requires a three-prong approach, i.e., treating your pet, your home and your yard at the same time. And if you have more than one pet, you must treat them all, even if you don’t see any fleas on them and/or they’re not scratching.

Myth #6: There’s no need to worry about fleas in winter. Fleas are more problematic in the warm summer months, but they can live quite happily (and continue to reproduce) in your home all year long. Effective flea control is an ongoing, year-round process, but diligently fighting these pests in winter can give you an advantage that will help you win the battle. Read this article for more about flea control in wintertime.

Myth #7: Natural flea control is not effective. This myth is partially true in that some natural flea products and methods don’t work as easily and/or efficiently as their chemical counterparts. However, a diligent pet owner who chooses to go the natural route to fight fleas can succeed. It’s up to each of us, as responsible pet owners, to research all flea control methods and products to discover which ones are right for our animal companions.

Fighting fleas can seem like an impossible battle, and we may be tempted at times to throw up our hands and surrender to this almighty enemy. But the decision to bring pets into our lives brings with it a commitment to take good care of them. Fleas are tenacious pests to be sure, but in the end they’re no match for those who are dedicated to responsible pet ownership.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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How to Help Pets with Flea Allergy Dermatitis


By Linda Cole

Responsible pet owners know how important it is to make sure their pets are treated for fleas. Unfortunately, some pets have an allergic reaction to a flea’s bite even with flea medication on them. Some reactions can be quite severe. I have a dog that has an allergic reaction to flea bites. Left untreated, a pet will whine and chew their skin raw, which isn’t good for them and can drive you and your pet crazy. My dog has flea allergy dermatitis, also called flea bite allergy.

The first and most important step in helping a pet who has an allergic reaction to fleas is to make sure they are treated with a quality flea control medication monthly. Start treatment at least one month before flea season starts and continue it until at least one month after flea season is over. Talk with your vet to determine which flea treatment would be best for your pet.

Fleas don’t actually live on our pets. Most of their life is spent lounging somewhere in the home. Some people assume that if they don’t see fleas on their pet, they don’t have a flea problem, but that’s simply not true. If you don’t find fleas on your pet at the time you inspect them, it doesn’t mean your pet or home is flea free. If it’s flea season and you have pets, a community of fleas could be hanging out in your home and yard, and using your pet as their own personal diner.

To help a pet who has flea allergy dermatitis, it’s important to treat the pet and the home at the same time and try to eliminate the little pests completely. The best way to control fleas in the home is to have a pest control service spray monthly during flea season; inside and outside. By having an effective flea control on the pet and with an aggressive attack on fleas around the home, you have a good chance of getting rid of the fleas.

Pets who suffer from flea allergy dermatitis are so sensitive that just one or two flea bites can cause them to chew on themselves constantly, and won’t stop even when their skin has become raw. You don’t have to have an infestation of fleas for your pet to be miserable. It’s not the flea bite itself that drives a dog or cat crazy, it’s the saliva of the flea that causes all the itching. Flea bite allergies are the most common type of allergy found in cats and dogs.

Signs of flea allergy dermatitis are constant scratching, chewing, licking and whining. Their skin may be red or even raw from constant scratching and chewing. You can feel bumps on their skin when you run your hand over the area they’ve been chewing on, especially along their back at the base of the tail and along the tail. You may notice an area where your pet scratched and chewed so much, they have a bare spot or thinning hair in the area. They can develop hot spots on their face or other parts of their body, and you are apt find flea debris in the area. The debris looks like little pieces of dried blood because that’s exactly what it is. Flea bite allergy can cause secondary infections if left untreated, so it’s up to us as responsible pet owners to make sure to tackle a flea problem aggressively and use all of the weapons available to us during flea season.

Keep your pet’s bedding clean. Vacuum regularly where your pet sleeps, along baseboards, and move furniture so you can vacuum under it. Remove couch and chair cushions and vacuum thoroughly underneath them. Dispose of the vacuum bag after each vacuuming and if your vacuum has no bag, dump the dirt out into a small trash bag and seal it before throwing it away. You don’t want any of your captured fleas to escape back into the home.

If your pet shows signs of having any adverse reaction to fleas even with flea medication on them, talk with your vet. They can recommend a flea control product that might work better for your pet and they can also advise you on other products you can use to help relieve their itching. You want to make sure to use flea control that kills adult fleas and has an insect growth regulator (IGR) which will kill immature fleas before they have a chance to mature into adults.

Flea allergy dermatitis can drive both you and your pet crazy. Start your fight against fleas before they have a chance to attack your pet or invade your home.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Feline Health Concerns


By Suzanne Alicie

Cats seem to be pretty easy pets to care for; all they really ask for are food, water and a clean litter box. But felines in general have many health concerns that responsible pet owners should be aware of and discuss with their veterinarian.

Hairballs – Because cats groom themselves they are always swallowing loose hair. Occasionally this hair forms into a ball and lodges in the cat’s stomach; your cat may do a great deal of coughing and hacking to dislodge the hairball, eventually coughing it up and out. If your cat is unable to expel a hairball then it is time to take action. There are over the counter medications that you can use to help the cat pass the hairball one way or the other, or you can visit your vet and he will administer a treatment after examining the cat to make sure there are no other problems.

Worms – Roundworms, tapeworms, hook worms and even heartworms can affect your cat. If left untreated, worms can be fatal to your feline friend. You can take your cat to the vet to be checked for worms and choose the best treatment for the specific type of worms.

Urinary Tract Infections – Bladder problems are common in both sexes of cats; however male cats risk a life threatening blockage due to urinary and bladder infections. A veterinarian should examine any cat you believe has a UTI or any problems with urination.

Fleas – Flea infestations cause anemia and have been known to kill kittens. Many times you can deal with fleas at home with flea dips and treatments to prevent infestation, but in the case of kittens younger than 6 months you should contact your vet before using any topical treatments. Linda Cole has written two helpful articles on how to fight fleas: Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats, and Winter is the Best Time to Fight Fleas.

Cat Flu – This viral infection that affect the upper respiratory tract can make your cat very sick, and can even kill young kittens and older cats. Pus leaking from the eyes, sneezing and thick discharge from the nose, fever or loss of appetite are all symptoms of cat flu. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms.

FIV – Also known as feline AIDS, this disease lowers the cat’s immunity to common infections. A cat that suffers a long list of illnesses is commonly found to have FIV. While there is no vaccine for FIV, all cats should be tested so that preventive steps can be taken.

Feline Leukemia Virus – Thanks to a recent vaccine, FLV is no longer the most common fatal disease in cats. Cats that contract FLV rarely have a long life expectancy, and all cats should be immunized while young before they are in contact with any other cat that may have FLV.

Abscessed Wounds – The skin on a cat is tough and does not tear easily. This means that when a cat gets a scratch or bite the skin heals over quickly, often trapping bacteria underneath. These bacteria can cause your cat to become very ill as the infection spreads. An abscess can rupture on its own releasing thick yellow pus. If you clean this with warm salt water or peroxide the abscess will usually heal with no further problems. If an abscess does not rupture you should take your cat to the vet so that he can drain it and resolve the infection with antibiotics.

By keeping a close eye on your cat and his behavior, you can many times head off any health concerns before they become a problem.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Winter is the Best Time to Fight Fleas


By Linda Cole

Fleas are nasty little critters that think nothing of hitching a ride on our pets or on us anywhere in our homes. One or two fleas may not seem like a problem, but it only takes a few to morph into a serious infestation in a matter of weeks. Winter is the best time to attack and mount a counter offensive against this invading pest that can be hard to find and even harder to eliminate. The first line of defense begins by understanding the life cycle of fleas.

Just because you don’t find fleas on your pet, doesn’t mean you don’t have a flea problem. That’s because adult fleas spend most of their time in your home rather than on your pet. Our pets are nothing more than a meal ticket and a place to lay eggs or hitch a ride. The female flea will lay eggs anywhere in the home, not just on your dog or cat. Not only are fleas a biting terror, some have tapeworm eggs which can infect your pet.

The perfect temperature for the flea life cycle is between 70 and 85 degrees and 70% humidity. Winter is the best time to attack fleas because lower humidity levels can slow their development down. They are still in the environment, but less active. If you have a flea infestation in your home, only 5% are adult fleas. The real problem is the remaining population made up of 50% eggs, 30% larvae and 15% pupae.

The flea life cycle begins with the egg

An adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. Eggs that have been laid on your pet will drop off onto carpets, furniture, our beds, your pet’s bedding, along baseboards and cracks in wood flooring. Winter is the best time to attack a flea infestation because under ideal conditions, the tiny white eggs will hatch in about 2 days up to a couple of weeks. The dry heat from our furnaces slows the process and gives you more time to move furniture and do a deep cleaning of carpets, furniture and along the floor before the eggs move to the second stage.

The second stage of the flea life cycle: larvae

At this stage, they can move using tiny hairs that are attached to the larvae. They will go through three transformations as larvae and eat the feces of adult fleas (dried blood), organic material they find in carpets, bedding and outside in the soil. This stage will last 5 to 18 days and can be longer depending on weather conditions. The larvae will then spin a cocoon and move into the next stage.

The third stage of the flea life cycle: pupae

This is the last stage before fleas become adults. The flea will stay in this stage anywhere from 3 or 5 days up to a year or more if necessary. At this point, they are only waiting for the right conditions to emerge into adult biting pests.

Being aware of the life cycle of fleas helps to understand why winter is the ideal season to fight these nasty pests. First of all, it’s important to continue treating your pets with flea control throughout the winter months. The next step is to begin an aggressive cleaning offensive. Vacuuming daily will help pick up fleas in all four stages. Add a flea collar or spray flea control directly into the bag to kill any fleas you picked up and immediately remove the vacuum bag when you are finished. If you leave the bag in the vacuum, any fleas that hatch and are not affected by the flea collar or spray will have a chance to escape and start their own egg laying. Don’t forget to vacuum all of the furniture as well as along the baseboards and under the furniture.

To help break the life cycle of fleas, wash all bedding, removable furniture coverings and clothing your pet may have been on. For severe infestation, winter is the best time to attack fleas with a visit from your local pest control company. Foggers can also be used, but make sure to follow all of the instructions, warnings and cautions if using foggers.

Winter is the best time to combat fleas because you have a fighting chance of getting a handle on any infestations you may have. Unfortunately, you could have millions of fleas in your home in one stage of development or another, and dealing with them is an ongoing battle. But if you take advantage of the flea’s slower development during the winter months, you may be able to break the life cycle of the flea. It may take some time, but with proper flea control and dedicated cleaning practices, it is a battle you can win.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Help a Scratching Dog Get Relief


By Linda Cole

Do you have a scratching dog that is driving you crazy? Does he wake you up in the middle of the night with his mournful yelps while his leg pounds on the ground with a beat that would make any drummer envious? Like us, a dog scratches what itches, but there may be more going on than just a simple itch behind his ear. Scratching can indicate a presence of ear mites, dry skin or fleas, but it can also alert a dog owner to more serious conditions that need to be attended to.

One of my dogs has a severe reaction to fleas. It only takes one to drive her nuts. Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the biting flea. But a scratching dog doesn’t have to be miserable or drive you crazy, because flea allergies can be eliminated in most cases with regular use of flea medication along with controlling fleas throughout the home. Your vet can administer steroids or antihistamines to help calm the dog’s itching and give both of you peace and quiet from all the scratching and whining.

Winter weather means furnaces are up and running which makes the air inside the home drier. The dry heat quickly creates scratching dogs and humans, so extra attention to skin care may be required. Dogs have more dander during winter months, and extra grooming can help keep their skin in good shape. It’s a good idea to not bathe your dog as frequently in the winter.

If they do need a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo that’s made specifically for dogs. Shampoo made for people is too harsh for dogs because our PH is different from theirs. Finish off with a good dog conditioner that contains ingredients to help reduce dry skin. Of course the best way to help scratching dogs beat the winter itch is to provide them with a high-quality dog food that keeps them healthy from the inside out. CANIDAE Grain Free Salmon Formula can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy all year.

Scratching dogs may have ear mites that have invaded their ears. These tiny parasites will cause your dog to shake his head and scratch his ears. A sure sign your dog has ear mites is an unpleasant odor coming from their ears. The dog may yelp in pain while scratching and rub his head along the ground in an attempt to stop the itch. You may see a discharge (dried blood) draining from the ear and if you clean his ears with a Q-tip and look closely at the debris, you can see the mites moving. To stop the scratching and free him of this parasite, it’s important to first clean his ears thoroughly with a quality ear cleaner followed by ear drops to kill the mites. Ear Miticide is the normal medicine used to kill the mites.

Yeast infections or secondary infections can also cause your dog to dig at his ears. If you are unsure why your dog is scratching his ears and you’ve been able to rule out ear mites, a visit to your vet can help determine the cause. Antibiotics may be required to clear up the cause of the problem.

Any time a skin condition lasts more than a week, it’s a good idea to take your dog to see your veterinarian. A constantly scratching dog may indicate a serious condition that needs to be addressed. If you see open sores on their skin or irritations like rashes, redness or bumps, hair loss, a constant licking of their feet or dry, or dull hair that you can easily pull out, these symptoms could indicate other conditions like cancer, skin cancer or lymphoma, bacterial infections, allergies, mange, ringworm, hot spots or a number of other conditions that can affect dogs.

A scratching dog can work themselves into a frenzy and the cause of their itching needs to be addressed. If his drummer’s beat on the floor is driving you crazy, then imagine how he must feel. Most skin and ear conditions can be dealt with easily. Once you’ve been able to determine exactly what your dog’s scratching is all about, both of you can finally have a peaceful night’s sleep.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats


By Linda Cole

They’re baaaack! Fleas are once again climbing from their hiding cracks and crevasses and mounting an invading army with your pet as the target. Many pet owners wrestle with the same question every summer. Do I stick with the usual control that uses chemicals to kill the fleas, or is it time to try a natural control?

For animals who have had allergic reactions or other medical and sometimes life threatening reactions to over-the-counter flea control, the answer is simple. More and more owners are taking a look at natural flea control to avoid harsh chemicals found in many of the topical medications that are on the market. However, when it comes to battling an obnoxious pest that can also do bodily harm to your pet, some kind of flea control is essential. If you’re looking for alternative solutions, the news is good – with natural ways to combat the mighty flea.

As with any flea control, you have to be consistent and dedicated to stay ahead of flea infestations. Most natural control can take up to a month before you start to see results. Don’t be discouraged. Find what works best for you and your pet, and implement several of the natural flea control solutions.

Apple Cider Vinegar makes the skin taste acidic to fleas, so don’t substitute any other vinegar. Depending on the size of your water bowl, add one tablespoon per cup of water. Don’t stop if your pet gives you “that look.” Animals adapt. If they refuse to drink the water, you can mix a 50/50 solution in a spray bottle and put it directly on your pet.

Brewers Yeast with Garlic is a favorite of mine because it can be used as a treat or put directly on their food. Not all pets like it, but those who do will wolf it down. Brewers yeast can be purchased in tablets or powder. It contains B vitamins, biotin, proteins and zinc, and can help improve your pet’s blood, skin and immune system. Like apple cider vinegar, it works from the inside by giving the pet’s skin an odor and taste not appreciated by fleas. If your pet won’t eat brewers yeast, mix up 1/4 cup powered yeast in a quart of water and pour into a squirt bottle. Spray on your pet and work the yeast and water into their coat as you spray. You can also use powered yeast as a flea powder. Shake it over their coat, working it in as you dust.

Rosemary: To make a dip with rosemary, use two cups fresh herb to one gallon of warm water. If your dog is super-sized, you will have to adjust the amount for size. Steep the rosemary for 30 minutes in boiling water. Pour into a gallon of warm water and allow it to cool slightly. You want your mix to be warm, not hot. Pour over your pet and let them air dry for best results.

Lavender Essential Oil has been used in the past to treat anxiety in cats; however, I don’t recommend this for cats as a natural flea control because it can build up and become toxic to them. For your dog, simply place a couple of drops at the base of their tail and the back of their neck after bathing them.

Lemon: Take two or three lemons and slice them rind and all. Drop into a quart of boiling water and let it set overnight. Strain out any pulp before using. Use this solution to sponge over your pet or put in a spray bottle. Let them air dry. Lemon can also help condition your pet’s skin as well as repel fleas.

Raw Garlic should be used with care, as some animals tolerate it better than others. Never give raw garlic to your cat or dog unless you have checked with your vet first. Too much can make your cat anemic, and the jury is still out for dogs. Talk with your vet for specific dosage and any health concerns you need to be aware of before starting your pet on garlic. Fleas are nasty critters for your pet, but too much raw garlic can be equally damaging for your pet.

Keep in mind that natural flea control does not kill fleas or their eggs, it only repels them. When using any natural control, administer outside where the fleas can vacate your pet away from the cracks and crevices of your home.

As with any flea control, your pet’s environment also needs to be kept clean. A thorough daily vacuuming will help keep fleas in check as well as remove any eggs. Make sure to vacuum the furniture too, and wash your pet’s bedding regularly.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.