Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flea Problems for Dogs

Blaming the flea is natural for dog owners when they see their dog itching and scratching more frequently and intensely than usual. Fleas exist by biting and feeding on the blood of their unfortunate host animals, but the bites usually result in just a mild itch. The affected dog nips and scratches at the bite location until the flea dies and that is usually that.

However, some unlucky dogs develop flea allergy dermatitis after being bitten. Flea allergy dermatitis, also known as flea bite hypersensitivity, is characterized as a seasonal allergy. It occurs most frequently in spring and fall when the flea population is at its highest and is caused by an allergic reaction to one or more of the numerous antigens contained in the saliva of the flea.

Unfortunately, this allergy is genetically programmed into the dog. As with any other type of allergic reaction, an overactive immune system makes a dog vulnerable to flea allergy. The flea saliva antigens (foreign proteins located on the outside of saliva bacteria) provoke a heightened immune response in the dog in the form of antibodies (also protein molecules) that attach to the antigens. This antigen-antibody response is referred to as an “immune complex.” A dog’s body may also respond by producing histamines after the dog has been bitten by a flea.

Natural, automatic responses to a flea bite include extreme itching, scratching and biting of the affected area. Do not let the itching and scratching continue indefinitely, as, unfortunately, a heavy flea infestation left unchecked in a small dog or a puppy could eventually lead to severe anemia or death.

Although the likelihood of flea allergy dermatitis has somewhat decreased since the introduction of flea prevention products, studies have shown that approximately 40 percent of dogs nevertheless still suffer from a flea allergy. Dog owners who suspect a flea allergy can have their suspicions confirmed by an intradermal skin test. It is interesting to note that studies have also shown that a large portion of dogs afflicted with flea bite hypersensitivity suffer from inhalant allergies as well.

Hypersensitivity in general can take one of several forms; flea bite hypersensitivity in particular typically produces either an immediate or delayed reaction.

Type 1 (immediate) hypersensitivity takes the form of an immediate and extreme response to a flea bite that is caused by an over-release of histamines and other chemicals (or anaphylaxis). This response occurs within minutes of exposure.

Type 2 (antibody mediated) hypersensitivity is also referred to as autoimmunity because, in this type of allergic reaction, the body produces antibodies to the proteins in its own cells.

Type 3 (immune complex mediated) hypersensitivity causes multiple immune complex responses to develop and lodge in various organs in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is one example of Type 3 hypersensitivity.

Type 4 (delayed) hypersensitivity is actually a delayed response to the allergen that develops more than 24 hours after exposure. Flea bite hypersensitivity reactions fall under either the Type I or Type IV categories.
Many dog owners turn to commercial topical flea infestation prevention products that are administered monthly to kill fleas before they can attack the dog. Some products also inhibit the fleas’ ability to reproduce, which eventually eliminates the flea infestation all together. If an actual flea infection is present, owners would be wise to treat the entire living environment to supplement flea control treatments for a more rapid elimination of the infestation. This is traditionally accomplished with a thorough house cleaning and the application of carpet shampoos and house sprays.

However, there is evidence that chemical flea prevention treatments such as topical chemicals and flea tags and collars do dogs more harm than good. Dogs have been known to permanently lose hair in the area underneath a flea collar from an allergic reaction to the preventative. Flea tags emit a toxic gas that affects the dog’s nervous system as well as everyone who comes in contact with the dog. You should avoid these products at all cost.

Certainly the best way to treat a flea infestation is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Dogs in poor health attract fleas. Naturally, then, the best way to prevent a flea infection in a dog is to encourage an optimal state of health by feeding a wholesome, natural diet and providing a stable living environment full of exercise and sunshine and regular grooming. A strong, healthy body and immune system is the greatest defense against infestation by fleas.

Natural, nutritional yeast and fresh garlic added to a dog’s daily food ration will strengthen her body. Wash your dog with lemon rinse daily to render the skin less attractive to fleas and use borax based powder on your carpet to reduce the flea population instead of using the commercial flea repellents contained in carpet shampoos. Natural flea infection remedies are the best treatment approach, because the harsh chemicals contained in commercial flea products needlessly stress the already weakened immune system that attracted the fleas in the first place.

Supplementation with all natural vitamins, minerals and herbs has been shown to greatly help dogs suffering from canine flea infections by strengthening the immune system, relieving skin irritation and inflammation and repairing damaged skin and fur. Specially designed formulas with many different combinations of ingredients including multi-letter vitamins, brewer’s yeast and herbs like alfalfa and cat’s claw have shown remarkable results.
The supplement that I use and recommend to all my clients is -
NuVet Plus
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1-800-474-7044 Or click Here

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