Fleas can drive dogs crazy – especially if they’re allergic to them. The infected dog will scratch, bite, lick and rub his body on the ground, damaging the itchy skin more and removing lots of hair.
In my last post I wrote about dogs with inhalant allergies. This is the most common kind of allergy, stirred up by things the dog breathes including pollen, dust and smoke. Fleas are a close second.
Two kinds of flea bits
- regular flea bite – itchy and annoying
- flea bite when you’re allergic – SUPER itchy and annoying
Inhalant allergies are very hard to pin down but an allergy to fleas is very simple: look for fleas. Two favourite spots of fleas:
- on your dog’s tummy
- at the base of his tail
You might not find the actual fleas there, but you will see dark specks like pepper, on the skin. These are flea droppings and they are made up mostly of your dog’s blood. Take a few and put them on a damp paper towel. If the dirt turns reddish with water over the next few minutes, it’s flea poop so you know your Morkie’s infested.
Dealing with Fleas
Fleas can make your dog’s life miserable, but the TREATMENT for fleas can make him miserable AND very sick.
Fleas are killed with strong insecticides, whether it’s a flea collar, spot on product, powered or spray. More deaths and sicknesses are caused by fleas and ticks than are caused by flea killing devices.
Never use these things to control fleas on your Morkie:
- flea collars
- flea spray
- flea shampoo – unless it is clearly labelled CERTIFIED ORGANIC
- spot on products like Frontline
- flea ‘pills’ like Sentinel
- dips, offered at groomers.
They are FAR too harsh for a tiny dog like a Morkie. You’re applying poison right on their skin – which is only 1/5th as thick as our skin, and which will absorb the poison and carry it through the dog’s entire system.
Allergic reactions to fleas
Any dog, or human for that matter, an have an allergic reaction to a flea bite. But for a tiny dog, this can turn into a full-blown anaphylactic, or life-threatening reaction. It’s like what many schoolchildren suffer with their peanut butter allergies.
When we have an anaphylactic reaction, our lungs are most affected. We wheeze and cough. But dogs are hit hard in the liver. This brings on sudden diarrhea, urination and vomiting.
How to fight fleas
Start by battling them before they get on your Morkie:
- keep your home well vacuumed, and throw out the vacuum bag or empty the canister, often
- keep your grass cut short; fleas often thrive in the summer in longer grass
- plant lemon balm, sage, rosemary, catnip, lemongrass, basil and mint in your yard; all repel fleas and ticks
- buy FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth and spread it outside where your Morkie hangs out (especially if he goes potty outside). (You can get this at most health stores and garden centres and it’s only toxic to fleas and ticks.
- wash your Morkie’s bedding often, in hot, soapy water
- treat your yard and even your home, if fleas are bad, but remove your dog (and your family) while the treatment is being done
- shampoo your Morkie
- look for a product that says CERTIFIED ORGANIC (“ORGANIC” on its own means nothing) and does double duty as a flea remover. Amazon sells some of these products including 4-Legger unscented hypoallergenic dog shampoo, which eases itch. Or Dr. Mercola’s Organic Lavendar shampoo, which does double duty, discouraging fleas while cleaning your dog.
You can also use pure Castile soap (health food stores and online) to shampoo your Morkie once a week during flea season, and rinse with a 10:1 vinegar water solution (10 parts water to 1 part vinegar).
Other safe treatments
There are natural sprays and powders you can use to control fleas, that won’t harm your Morkie.
They include products from Wondercide (spray for your home, and natural shampoos made with citronella and geranium. Visit wondercide.com for more information.
Amazon has some herbal spot on products to repel ticks, fleas and mosquitos, such as Spot-On by Mercola.
Do it yourself, natural remedies
Visit DogsNaturallyMagazine.com where you’ll find recipes for organic sprays, chemical free repellants and even chemical free ultrasonic tags.
Commercial flea treatments can be deadly, so please look for something safer. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised AGAINST spot on products especially for dogs weighing 10 to 20 pounds. Their study found that not only the active ingredients but also the “inert” ingredients can be toxic to pets.
If your dog has fleas, or has an allergic reaction to flea bites, don’t panic. Use common sense and natural products, otherwise you endanger your Morkie with insecticides and poisons which are meant for the flea, not him.
- always pick organic and natural over chemical choices
- never use an oral treatment product
- avoid all spot-on treatments
- NEVER use a flea collar; they’re the most dangerous of all treatments
- One type of treatment at a time
- Don’t buy anything manufactured in China to avoid poor quality or tainted ingredients.