Ling Ling: “MY Yard!” – Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman
Ling Ling loves lawns. In fact, Ling Ling is the Princess of the Home Green Expanses and loves to be out in her yard. Note that her in the foregoing sentence is the operative word. It is her yard, which she graciously shares with the rest of us lesser beings. This means, as she soaks up the sun, she also subjects herself to the pestification of summer.
This pestification includes mosquitoes and wood ticks and fleas (oh my!), not to mention sunburn and overheating. Oreo and Tilly Tot are also at risk in summer but to a lesser extent, because they spend way less time outside than the Princess. Let’s take these pesky things one at a time.
Mosquitoes, the Mini-Mighty Munchers
First, a disclaimer – I’m not a veterinary nor a vet assistant. I am just an ordinary person sharing some of my doggie experiences with you and some of the information I have picked up along the way. At all relevant times when you have concerns, I urge you to take your pet to the veterinary for examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Vets have way more info/skill than you or me, and your dog/cat will be better off for it.
Mosquito on the nose. Photo credit: Siloto | dreamstime.com
Having said that, you’ll probably notice when your dog or cat comes in from outside, they will often sit and scratch intermittently until it drives you crazy. Ling Ling even groans during her scratchfest, whether in relief or because the scratching is getting painful, I don’t know. Chances are, though, that the cause is one of the terrible three—mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas.
West Nile Virus
One of the concerns in many rural and wooded areas is that the mosquitoes may carry the West Nile virus. Dogs and cats are at risk of being infected, with similar symptoms as humans. The good news is that the chances of your pets being stricken with this encephalitis-causing virus are slim. Nonetheless, the danger is there.
Another bit of good news is that mosquitoes are the main carriers of heartworm disease, a parasitic entity that can, under untreated circumstances, cause the death of a dog. Oh wait! That’s not the good news…the good news is that heartworm parasites are susceptible to the extreme cold temperatures of Saskatchewan (and other western provinces and states) winters, and the disease does not thrive here.
Thus, the main thing to look out for is still the West Nile virus. Even dogs with thick coats are vulnerable since their ears, eyes and nose areas are open to mosquito snacking. One way to give your dog and cat some protection is to keep them in at dawn, dusk and early evening when the mosquitoes are out in numbers socializing and looking for someone(s) to munch on.
Top-Rated, Natural-Ingredient Mosquito Repellents
A variety of repellents, some of them made specifically for dogs and cats, are on today’s market and available at the larger department stores like Wal-Mart and Target. It’s best to avoid products that have harmful chemicals or DEET. You might look into some of the natural mosquito repellents, such as lemon eucalyptus oil (brand name of one such product is Repel). Problem with this repellent is its smell, and you should use caution when applying it. It is made for humans but deemed safe for dogs.
As reported in Dogs Naturally magazine, a pet safe lemon eucalyptus product can be purchased from Daisy Paw. They also manufacture cool collars specially made to hold the essential oils, keeping your dog protected longer without having to spray the product directly on his skin.
Another helpful product, although less effective than lemon eucalyptus oil, is a combination of geranium oil, soy bean oil, and coconut oil. This combination is sold under the name of Bite Blocker. One of the pet versions is sold online under the brand name of Petfresh for about $10 per bottle.
Citronella candles and incense are a well-known way to control mosquitoes. However, it is not highly effective and should be used in combination (by both humans and animals) with other repellents. More natural repellents include fennel, thyme, clove oil, celery extract, and neem oil. Do some research on the web to find recipes for making the correct proportions of these herbs and spices. It is not recommended to use any of these undiluted directly on the skin of your pet.
Dogs Naturally magazine offers Mozi-Q, an edible all-natural oral mosquito bug repellent that purports to allow your pets to enjoy the outdoors without being “bugged.” Bugs included in the kill range of Mozi-Q are mosquitos, black flies, ticks, chiggers, No-See-Um’s, sand flies and bed bugs.
Next week, we’ll tackle wood ticks and go into fleas…well, I mean discuss them. No one WANTS to physically tackle wood ticks or go into fleas. Also next week, we’ll touch on sunburn (gently), and take a look at some solutions for the terrible three.
What kind of “summer pestification” are your
pets subject to? What was your solution?
If you would like to share, please just
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(Next week watch for “Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My! – Part 2”)
Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-5.4, May 24, 2014)