Category Archives: pests

3 Parasites You May Not Realize Your Pet Has

parasites BobBy Linda Cole

It’s not difficult to figure out if your pet has fleas. Left untreated, it doesn’t take long for a full blown flea infestation to invade your home and pet. It’s not always so easy, however, to tell when parasites are affecting your dog or cat. Here are three parasites you might not realize your pet has.

Cuterebra Parasite

The Cuterebra (Botfly) is a large, non-biting fly that lay eggs around openings of rabbit or rodent dens. Some eggs are deposited on plants and rocks in the area. Rabbits and rodents are the normal host for the fly, but dogs and cats can collect eggs on their coat when poking their head in and around burrow openings. Eggs exposed to the warmer body temperature of a pet hatch into larvae that crawl around looking for a way into their host, usually through the mouth or nasal passage during grooming, or through an open wound.
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How Weather Plays a Role in Tick Outbreaks

ticks Katie BradyBy Linda Cole

Just the mention of ticks causes a tingling on the back of your neck. An afternoon hike in the woods can end with a thorough search through your dog’s coat and your hair to make sure none of those bloodsuckers hitched a ride. Some years are worse than others, and weather plays a big role in how bad a tick outbreak might be and when tick season begins.

Ticks are found everywhere in the United States, and which species you encounter depends on where you live. There are four stages in the life cycle of ticks: egg, larvae (smaller than a period), nymph (size of a pinhead), and adult. It takes two years for them to develop into adults, and except for the egg stage, each stage requires a blood meal before it can molt into the next one. Females can lay around 3,000 eggs.

Ticks do not die off during the winter months. To survive the cold and snow, most ticks find shelter in leaf litter and are dormant until spring. However, adult deer ticks (black-legged ticks) remain active year round. You or your pet could pick up a hitchhiker anytime the air temperature is close to freezing or above and the ground isn’t frozen or snow covered. In freezing weather, deer ticks hunker down under the snow in leaf litter, on firewood or a tree trunk, and come out during warm spells. If you find a tick inside during the winter, it probably hitched a ride on firewood.

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Bed Bug Detection Dogs Sniff Out Pests!

By Julia Williams

When I was young, my mother used to recite the ditty “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite” as part of our bedtime ritual. Now, I didn’t actually know what a bed bug was, in fact I didn’t even know such a bug even existed, but the saying always made me giggle. Bed bugs were mostly a legend back then, as the pests were largely eradicated in the U.S. by pesticides like DDT. Bed bugs remained a problem overseas, however, and travelers unknowingly brought them back to the states. As a result, bed bug cases have surged in recent years, so much so that some say we’re experiencing a “bed bug epidemic.” Pest control companies now have a new weapon to wage war on these biting bedfellows: dogs! That’s right – dogs are being trained to use their incredible olfactory ability to pinpoint where the nibbling critters and their eggs are hiding in homes, hotels and businesses.

Can Dogs Really Sniff Out These Microscopic Pests?

Of course they can! Detection dogs have become highly proficient at finding bombs, drugs, people, weapons and even certain types of cancer. Bed bug “detective work” is just another way we can use their exceptional sense of smell to benefit mankind. Not only that, but dogs can locate these pests quicker and more efficiently than humans can, thanks to a nose that some call “cutting edge technology.”

A dog’s sense of smell is said to be more than 1,000 times more sensitive than ours. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is so acute it can even detect odors that scientific instruments can’t. Train the canines to sniff out bed bugs, and these pests don’t stand a chance!

Why Bed Bug Detection Dogs Trump Humans

The feeble human nose is unable to detect the smell of bed bugs, and must rely on a visual inspection. However, because the critters are so small – newly hatched bed bugs are about the size of a pen tip – finding physical evidence can be like looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack. It can take a mere mortal several hours or more to conduct a visual inspection, whereas a well trained bed bug detection dog can sweep a room in minutes. Moreover, pinpointing the exact location of bed bugs in a home or business reduces both the amount of chemicals used and the treatment costs.

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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.

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

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.

Pets and Pests: How to Combat Fleas and Ticks

By Stacy Mantle

There is nothing more terrifying to a pet owner than happening across a flea or tick on their pet. The first thought that runs through their head is that they must do something immediately. While you do need to take action, you should always be thinking of ways to prevent pests in the first place.

Prevention is the key when it comes to pests such as fleas and ticks. While you may not have them in your home now, there is always a distinct possibility that they are on the way. The best way to prevent pests is to have your home treated with an environmentally friendly, yet effective pest control service. Treating the outside of a home is optimal, and will help in eliminating anything that may show up indoors.

If you do find fleas or ticks in your home, there are a number of steps to follow:

1. Vacuum: Studies show that merely vacuuming the home regularly can eliminate 50% of fleas and ticks. Don’t let waste be stored in a bag. Wrap it in a plastic bag and dispose outside or empty and clean canister after a quick spray of frontline.

2. Laundry: Do lots and lots of laundry. This will help eliminate any current pupae (flea larvae) and help prevent future problems.

3. Treat your pet: Using a nontoxic spray or monthly treatment, be sure to have your pet treated. Be very cautious when choosing a treatment and do your homework. If you’re treating cats or kittens, be careful. They have a tendency to react poorly to these treatments and it’s important to choose one that is nontoxic and approved for use on cats. Read the instructions and never try to use a dog treatment on a cat.

4. Treat bedding: Be sure to vacuum and clean the areas where your pet spends most of their time. Wash bedding, treat with a nontoxic spray or powder, and vacuum often.

With these guidelines, you should be able to prevent and eliminate any future infestations. If you already have fleas, remember that you will need to do this often. Fleas have a 15-day life cycle.

Read more articles by Stacy Mantle

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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.