The change of season brings in many pests. Come spring and mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, bumble bees, and innumerable varieties of insects and of course lizards start inspecting your house, as if you are an encroacher! Well, these are some examples of those pests which you can see and often experience their wraths. But if you are a pet owner, then worse is still to come.
As the Sun gets hotter, suddenly in the night you begin to hear tap, tap, tap… as if someone is rhythmically tapping the floor of the house. ‘Who could be that,’ you begin to ponder. Often the sound is so loud that you feel as if someone is trying to break-in. Heart thumping; you try to locate the torch. You are damn scared to switch on the light-as that might alert the intruder you think. With lots of effort you locate the source of noise and find the hunk of your Labrador engrossed in scratching his neck and behind the ear. As his paw reaches the ear, he groans and moans as if deriving a great pleasure from his efforts! You feel irritated and switch on the light, go near him and try to inspect his fur, groggy eyed and finally you almost growl in anger at him, asking him to stop.
Poor creature, can’t afford to displease you. He stops for a while and again the floor thumping starts. After a few shouts from the bed, you end up under the pillow, trying to reduce the volume of the noise. Gradually the bouts of scratching increase and you find him scratching and scratching. Even during his walks, he suddenly sits and begins to scratch. You made lots of efforts to teach him to retrieve. Throw the ball and while bringing it back he sits mid-way, scratching.
You get sick of his actions and decide to inspect what is wrong with him. You sit with him and go through his fur in great detail and find nothing, except some red patches on his skin and some chocolate colored specks sticking on his fur. Presuming that to be a dirt you just ignore and brush him and try to sooth him by applying some talcum powder on the inflamed skin. For a while it seems to work and you are pleased with the ‘doggy service’ that you have just finished.
You just slip on to the most comfortable easy chair with the newspaper in hand, mentally satisfied of the great job and try to read the latest. You have not even read the headline, when you are distracted by the scratching bout. ‘Its time to take him to the Vet,’ you decide and next day being a Saturday, you scamper off the Vet. No offence meant, but often Vets do not talk much. The reason is that if they talk and try to explain, they cannot possibly cope up with the number of patients waiting! Therefore, the Vet says it’s an allergy and gives your pooch a shot and asks you to come again for the next two days.
And yes he does advise a medicinal bath and prescribes some shampoo too. You and your dog both are now happy people. With the nice fragrance emanating from the dog after the shampoo, you wonder, if you could also use it once!
After the course few days pass off peacefully. And you both are happy. But lo, all of a sudden he goes back in to a scratching binge at night. You had a late night and wanted to sleep desperately, to catch up with the pile of work next day, but the remains of scotch in your blood and the scratching pet under your bed, gets on to your nerves.
At this point I make a lateral entry in to your mind. In other words you are advised by someone to get in touch with someone who is more conversant with dog hygiene, because as per the Vet it is an allergy and he will be willing to give another course of shots accompanied with some tablets. Yes, no doubt it is an allergy, but the question is why? The line of treatment the Vet is following is absolutely fine. But there is a lacuna, there is a communication gap. While giving the first course the Vet did mumble something about fleas, you recall. But you could not make out what he meant.
Therefore, the novice dog owners should note that fleas are strange creatures. A single flee lays 15-20 eggs per day. Under suitable weather conditions a flea in her life time can lay 500 eggs. Each flea sucks your dog’s blood up to 400 times. These apart, the fleas often carry tapeworm eggs. Dogs, in their effort to get rid of the flea, try to bite their own skin to catch the flea and in the endeavor gulp it. That is how the tapeworm eggs reach your dog. While you keep pondering, that you buy the best meat and try your best to keep the dog worm free etc. Another great quality of the flea is to jump high. Compared to human a flea jumps so high that it can cover three times the height of the pole vault jump record.
In short, they are most difficult to detect. But yes, if you find those chocolate specks on your dog’s fur, pick one, place it on a tissue. Squash it. If it leaves a stain, it is the excreta of the flea. And you can be sure that it cannot come on your dog’s body, unless he has a flea infestation.
Many dog lovers are sharp enough to catch the Vet’s word and also use the anti-flea lotion prescribed by him. Its good. But do you know that the flea come to your dog’s body only to breed. Some of them remain there and keep sucking blood and many fall off and live in the fur spaces of the carpet, cracks and crevices on the walls, cracks or open spaces in the furniture. They affect the humans as well, so beware.
These fleas in the house climb on to your dog whenever they feel like reproducing. Therefore, the best way is to break the flea cycle. You can seek advice of your Vet about the best and safest water based lotion to be applied on your dog. Make a three to four times more concentrated solution of the same lotion and spray it in your house. You can repeat the spray every week for three weeks, while you may apply the lotion on the dog’s body as advised by the Vet. The spraying of the house breaks their cycle and thereafter you and your dog can have a peaceful time. But do not forget to repeat the whole process when the monsoon sets in. That is another period for these pests to multiply.
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