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Dr. Michael Fox, Published September 20 2013

Pet care: Controlling fleas, ticks naturally

Dear Dr. Fox: I would like to know the easiest and fastest way to get rid of fleas on my three dogs.

They haven’t had fleas in several years; they’re inside dogs who are walked in the morning and evening, but evidently this is a bad year for fleas as my dogs have them.

You’ve mentioned diatomaceous earth and borate powder but fail to mention where to get these items. – G.R., Arlington, Va.

Dear G.R.: Please read my special report on controlling fleas and ticks that is posted on my website, DrFoxVet.com.

It is a detailed report on an integrated approach to keeping these noxious insects at bay. Essential tools include weekly vacuuming of the house, especially where pets sleep. Whole Foods market and some pet stores may carry diatomaceous earth, or go to perma-guard.com. For borate powder, go to fleabusters.com. The former you rub into your pets’ fur; the latter you sprinkle in cracks and crevices around the house. I also endorse the new quassia-based, safe and effective herbal spray from PetzLife called Complete Coat. This product kills fleas and ticks and is harmless if the pet accidentally swallows a small quantity.

In addition, buy a flea comb to do daily coat checks. Give your dogs a daily dose of brewer’s yeast in their food (1 teaspoon per 50 pounds of dog). Brewer’s yeast is also good for cats at about 1/2 teaspoon daily for an average-sized cat.

Q: I have a question for you about giardia. If a dog is a carrier, will that preclude the dog from being put up for adoption? That is the rumor going around at one of the shelters in St. Louis. I would like to know the facts, which is why I am asking you.

A: Giardia can be a problem in animal shelters. The first step to containing it is steam cleaning and the use of diluted bleach (one part bleach in 32 parts water) on kennel floor surfaces. Shelters should quarantine all incoming dogs and examine three fecal samples over a six-day period. If the dog tests positive, it should be treated with Fenbendzadole. All dogs should be bathed to remove any fecal residues that may contain this parasite.

Outdoor exercise areas should be considered infective if an afflicted dog – even one who could be a carrier yet shows no symptoms – has been out there. Such contaminated areas should be off-limits for four to six weeks.

Since this intestinal parasite can infect many different species (deer, cattle and other domestic livestock), I would act on the assumption that all dogs coming especially into rural shelters could be carriers, and, under the stress of being caught and held at the shelter, will likely develop symptoms. Strict hygiene, quarantine and testing are the best steps to prevent the spread of this infestation to other animals in the shelter and community.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.