Often when we go out with friends or to a club we aren’t thinking about our pets back at home. Or if we are the thoughts are fleeting and short lived. Honestly this scenario is something I haven’t really given any thought to. It’s just one more great reason not to drink and drive (as if that list wasn’t long enough). I have to say this commercial really got to me. I can admit I shed a few tears. Budweiser has a rich history of using animals to capture us into loving their brand. Even if you hate the beer you still look forward to their commercials during the Superbowl. So kudos to you Budweiser for producing quite possibly the most epic don’t drink and drive spot ever made.
Well it’s finally happened. The undead are walking the earth and eating their way through the human population. You and your dog have been trapped in your house for days. The electricity is off, there are no more radio broadcasts coming over the airwaves. Just hordes of shambling zombies, that relentless shuffling noise filling the silence. WERE YOU PREPARED?
OK, so we all know that a Zombie Apocalypse is actually a metaphor for any standard life changing emergency. Preparing for these eventualities is something we have all thought about. Here in Florida having a Hurricane survival kit is almost standard in all houses. One thing we do tend to forget about is our four legged friends. They need some prep too. Having a small kit together during any emergency will make the evacuation much easier for every living thing involved.
Where to start
If you are already emergency conscious you probably already have a backpack with essentials you might need for any emergency (aka a “GOBag” or “Bug Out” Bag). Things in this bag might include a small first aid kit, a couple bottles of water, matches or a lighter, some power bars and an extra set of car keys or house keys. If you have pets you might want to add a few things to this bag. A copy of your pet’s current vaccinations (shelters that do take pets will need to see these), a months supply of any medications your pets are on, Extra water, a few cans of dog food or a small supply of dry food in a plastic bag. In a pinch your pet can snack on your power bars too. Last but not least don’t forget an extra leash and collar, being able to control your dog in an emergency situation will keep you, them and other people safe. Keeping these essentials by your door or in the trunk of your car can save you precious seconds when trying to escape your house in any sort of emergency.
Have a Plan
In any sort of emergency knowing what you are going to do beforehand is always an advantage. Find out which shelters in your area take pets. I was able to find the list in my area simply by googling it. Failing that contacting your Veterinarian is always a good step. Sometimes your Veterinarian will provide special boarding for disaster situations. Know before a crisis hits which hotels along your evacuation route accept pets. This saved us one summer when a category 4 hurricane threatened. We were able to pile 3 adults and 4 animals into a hotel room for a weekend because we knew where to go.
If the worst happens and a pet loses their way in a disaster having them micro-chipped will greatly increase their chances of returning to you. You have a few options to choose from.The first is available at your veterinarian’s office. It’s an internal microchip usually inserted in the skin just behind the neck.The device itself also known as a transponder is no larger than a grain of rice and can be administered without anesthesia and is no more painful than a normal injection. It has no battery and utilizes radio waves activated by the scanner. The chip only stores an identification number so registering your transponder in the database should be a priority. Most veterinarians and shelters have a scanner so this will ensure that your pet can make it back to you in a timely manner.
Your second option is a collar based system. Usually this employs a GPS system in fact Garmin is one of the biggest producers of these collars. You can simply look up where your pet is at. They have even introduced smartphone apps which makes looking while on the go possible. However, and this is a big huge HOWEVER, it is very easy for a collar to be removed or broken or any number of things could occur to render this device useless. Not the least of which is the loss of GPS communication during a disaster.
The first step to your pet and you making it through any sort of disaster is information. Knowing who what when and where will ensure your survival. Take a few minutes today to find out the answers to these questions today and start taking steps. I know, I know, you don’t want to be one of those crazy prep people on TV. However let me ask you this… Who will you try to find when it all goes wrong?.
First up is a little something for the boys. We all love a great Hawaiian shirt and this one delivers. With it’s delightful palate of color this shirt is sure to gain your pooch the attention of every mammal they meet even those on 2 legs!
For the girls sundresses are all the rage this year They afford the much needed splash of color with form and function. This is just one example from Martha Stewart Pets. Much like everything Martha does her pet fashion line is top notch. Available at Petsmart.
Does your pup love to swim? Do you love taking them out on the boat with you? Then this fashion life jacket is for them! The bright color pattern make them easy to see in contrast to the water as well as providing them with extra flotation. Safety and fashion? YES THANK YOU!
Another adorable trend we are seeing this year is the pet graphic tee complete with cute little sayings, and pictures. I absolutely love this concept. Cotton tees are perfect for the summer months affording breath ability and sun protection. Even the ruggedness to withstand the elements.
Dressing your pet can be a fun way to express yourself through your pet. However, especially in the summer months, you should be careful with extensive outfits. Dogs do not sweat. They release the heat in their body by panting. They can also find comfort when the moisture in the air collects in their coat then the wind blows through it creating a cooling effect. This is not to say that shaving your dog down in summer is wrong or that dressing your pet is wrong. This is just a warning to look for signs like excessive panting and pacing or if they try to remove the garment. Keep plenty of water on hand for them to drink (some for you too!)and as always be watchful.
Fleas… I want you to start thinking of them as Animal lice. Why? Because if you or your child had lice you would take direct and immediate action to rectify the problem. Which is exactly the same mindset you need to have when fleas erupt on your pet. They can cause major discomfort and in extreme cases severe health problems.
Identifying Fleas on your pet.
The signs of fleas are often easy to spot. Try turning your pet over and looking on the stomach for fleas, often fleas will crawl away from light making them easier to spot . Also, look for blackish brown deposits of “dirt” on your pet’s belly, the base of the tail, and the top of the head. These things coupled with excessive scratching are almost 100% sure signs that your pet has fleas. Purchasing a “Flea comb” from your local pet store and gently combing over these areas is an effective method as well.
Yes, my pet has fleas. WHAT NOW OMG OMG OMG!!!
First, be concerned, but do not panic. We now live in a time where fleas can be controlled safely and effectively through a number of methods. First call your veterinarian and make an appointment. If this is your first experience with fleas you will need to have a tapeworm test performed to ensure that your pet is worm free. Yes, fleas cause tapeworms not only in pets but in humans as well. That’s right I said HUMANS. Ok Ok…it’s rare that you will develop tapeworms as they come from ingesting an infected flea…but it’s just another great reason to begin flea control as soon as a problem is detected. Your Vet will have many options available to you at the time of your appointment.
While you are waiting to see your Vet starting the house cleaning part of the battle is a good idea. Be sure to vacuum all pet areas and bedding thoroughly. Wash all linens and bedding that your pet has come into contact with using hot water and a hot dryer cycle.
I can’t get to/afford a veterinarian visit. WHAT NOW?
Let me preface this next section by saying that I am not a veterinarian, I am a Groomer. While I have over 15 years experience with pets and fleas nothing in this blog is a substitute for a veterinarian’s experience and knowledge.
A good bath.
Bathing can work wonders on a small flea infestation. Before you run out and spend Ten Dollars on some expensive, overpriced flea shampoo check your kitchen sink first. Do you use Dawn to wash your dishes? Blue Dawn is one of the most effective flea killers out there. Surprised? I was too when I discovered this fact years ago. It’s a little known secret. Worried that it’s not safe for animals? Think back to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. What was it they used on all the oil covered wildlife? YES DAWN! Soap in general is a mild insecticide but Blue Dawn seems to be the most effective on fleas overall. Not Palmolive, Not Dawn with Olay…BLUE Dawn.
Be sure to bathe your pet in luke warm water and scrub the Dawn to a rich lather (STAY AWAY FROM THE EYES!), let it sit on your pet for roughly 10 minutes. Rinsing is probably the most important step here it is imperative to get all of the soap out of your pet’s coat. Any soap left on can cause skin irritation (this is true of any soap). After rinsing a light conditioning might be in order. Try using conditioner for color treated hair. While Dawn kills fleas it also strips the oil in your pets coat and can make their skin dry. The conditioner will help to combat that. Again, rinse thoroughly.
OTC (over the counter) Treatments
Do you feel like your flea infestation is a bit out of control? Good News, Advantage and Frontline are now available without a veterinarian prescription and can be purchased at large retail stores (WalMart Petco Petsmart ect). These topical treatments are applied to the base of the neck and sometimes at the base of the tail . Appropriate for both dogs and cats, they interact with the oils in the animal’s skin making them a walking flea extermination device. Treatments such as this need to be applied monthly. Also, special precautions need to be taken if you are going to bathe your pet in between applications. Using a “soap free” dog shampoo is your best bet waiting three days before or after application. Using anything harsher will wash the product off making it open season for fleas and wasting your hard-earned money. If you have your pet bathed at a groomer be sure to specify that you only want soap free or hypoallergenic shampoo used on your pet. If your pet is an excessive swimmer the product can also wash off. They are water-resistant not water proof.Advantage uses adulticide (imidacloprid) and an insect growth regulator (pyriproxyfen). Frontline utilizes fipronil and (S)-methoprene. Frontline’s formula is more effective on ticks. Some of the pitfalls of this type of control are, oily residue on your pet sometimes hours after application and they can rub it off on your furniture, carpet, kids ect. Irritation at the application sight. Discontinue use and seek veterinarian advice. Easily rendered useless by bathing. Not bathing for a month is a good rule of thumb. Sometimes even following all of the directions these OTC treatments just don’t work (suspicion of Flea immunity).
In this section we are going to discuss the main treatments available from your Vet. These are the more expensive options. Flea control is like anything else you certainly get what you pay for.
Comfortis(fleas Dogs and cats) and Trifexis (fleas + heartworms DOGS ONLY) are oral medications only available by prescription at this time. These are also once a month treatments and let me tell you they work like gang busters. I’ve never seen anything like it honestly. Major flea infestations eradicated within hours or days. It’s pretty amazing (no they aren’t paying me to say this lol). All without the need to regulate your pet’s bathing/grooming/swimming. The Active flea ingredient in both of these medications is spinosad. From the information I have looked at they are antiparasitic enzymes derived from soil. They attack the nervous system of the flea killing them before they can lay eggs. So you may still see fleas occasionally but they are just new fleas that have not died yet. After a few months of repeated use the environment will be flea free.
As with anything good there is always the bad. These medications can sometimes have side-effects, vomiting is the most common and some pets just can’t keep them down. Also there is the cat issue(Comfortis). Ever tried making a cat do anything it doesn’t want to do? Yeah I hope you own a shark bite suit (lol). These medicines do not protect against ticks. Also the price, roughly $100 dollars plus vet fees for Trifexis (it does protect against heartworms too eliminating the need for Heartguard) and $80 plus Vet fees for Comfortis. Check with your vet to see if these are availiable in monthly doses the prices discussed above are for 6 month doses.
As I mentioned above Comfortis can be administered to cats as well but if you can’t manage to get your cat to ingest it, a topical method will have to be pursued. I would suggest either Advantage, Frontline, Or new products from the makers of Comfortis and Trifexis, Cheristen (Comfortis) or Assurity (Trifexis). The later both use the new spinosad.
Homeopathic Flea control
The truth: Unless you are willing to put in copious amounts of time in this method it will not work for long-term.
Pyrethrum: This is a natural flea control derived from the heads of painted daisies or old world chrysanthemums. This ingredient can be found in many flea shampoos and dips. It works well for short-term flea control but unless you are willing to bathe your pet in excess it isn’t really a viable long-term option. This is also available in a powder or liquid form from local garden centers or pest control stores.
d limonene: This is a citrus based insecticide often smelling of grapefruit or oranges. It is also available in a wide range of flea shampoos powders and liquids.
diatomaceous earth: This is a chalk like dust that utilizes algae. The powder lodges on the flea’s body causing it to dehydrate and suffocate. While you can’t put this directly on your pet it is a good idea to put it in the pet’s bedding and carpets. You can use a broom to work it into the fabric. This is an all around good product to use in conjunction with something else. Again available from gardening or pest control stores.
- don’t panic
- vacuum and clean pet areas
- call your vet
- choose the method of flea control that’s right for you