Bloodsuckers Beware!

yellow lab dog face

Bailey is sure I meant he should roll in the mud

Everyone at our house really looks forward to the first warm days of summer so we can go swimming in the river. It seems we are not the only ones anxious to get out and about as the thermometer rises, so do the insects, especially the bloodsuckers as I call them; fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
I have already found fleas on Bailey while giving him one of his many baths. You can tell if your dog has been into the flea infested areas even if you don’t see the fleas on their body. Fleas will leave black grit the size of pepper granules on the dog’s skin. Bailey seems to feel that rolling in mud is the best way to rid oneself of fleas and other critters.
He just looks at me with a cocked head, “But you said if I stink enough the fleas will go away, I don’t understand?”
I try to explain that was not what I had in mind and wonder with his hankering to roll in dirt and mud if he hasn’t been reading my farmers magazine on “How to Keep Hogs Happy”. At least Bailey has one part of my attack plan on bloodsuckers right, hit them in the nose. Bloodsuckers and many other insects do not like things that smell a certain way or taste bad, so I make this part of my natural treatment around the farm to guard against them.
Fleas may not be a problem in your yard or house but if you are out and about with your dog as we are with ours you are bound to pick them up at some point. When I see the first signs of fleas I get out the Diatomaceous Earth, a natural dust from microscopic sea critters that literally dehydrates the fleas. No chemicals, nothing toxic, no residues and no side effects on your dog or yard. Works great. Next I make sure there are plenty of plants with smells that the bugs don’t like, such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and lemon grass. Herbs like Catnip and basil are also natural repellents. For the coat, I use a spray made up of oils from Lemon Grass, Cinnamon, Sesame, and Castor. You can buy many products now that are labeled EcoSafe using various combinations of herbal oils. They work too, but remember they may need to be applied more often.
Ticks that carry Lyme disease, are bit more difficult to control especially since we live in heavy oak woods and have many deer, two things ticks love. For this job I call out the soldiers, I’m not kidding here either. A grouping of Guinea birds are known as soldiers. They and the turkeys do an excellent job of keeping ticks out of the places we frequent with the dogs. Ticks don’t attached themselves too quickly either, so we use that to our advantage and do a visual check for them after any activity. Wiping down with the oils mentioned earlier prior to your walk will help to discourage them from staying on your dog too.
Mosquitoes are my least favorite insect; they can kill a dog with the deadly things they carry particularly the dreaded heartworm larvae To make matters worse in some parts of the country, particularly the southern states, they are now immune to many of the heartworm preventatives. I don’t worry too much when the dogs are swimming about things biting them; it is afterwards that you need to be on top of things to keep the mosquitoes from landing. Citronella strips in your vehicle will deter bugs from coming in and feasting on your resting dogs or if you are still outside with your dog use the oil spray to put a fine coat of oil and fragrance on your dog.
All this is great but don’t forget to get your dog into the vets for an annual blood workup to be sure those pesky bloodsuckers have not left behind anything detrimental to your dog. If you notice a change in energy, stamina or breathing these are some of the early warning signs of possible disease from fleas, ticks or mosquitoes.