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Springtime parasite prevention and treatment

Spring is here, and it's time to hit the local parks and trails with your four legged friends! Along with the warmer weather will come those pesky parasites such as fleas and ticks than can make your pet miserable.

Zilker Park, the hike and bike trail, and the Greenbelt are great places within Austin to take your dog to play frisbee or go for a walk. Remember that these high trafficked areas are more prone to carry large populations of fleas and other parasites. Protecting your dog is important not only for their comfort, but to keep fleas from infesting your home.

Luckily, there are some easy steps to prevent and treat fleas on dogs. Topical treatments such as Frontline, Advantage, or K9 Advantix are applied on skin between the shoulder blades and kill fleas and ticks while protecting against future infestations. For the best protection against ticks, these products recommend treatment once per month. Products such as these are available at most local pet stores.

Ask your vet about Program or Sentinel, a monthly tablet given orally to prevent eggs, larvae, or pupae stage fleas from becoming adults. Most topical treatments kill only the adults, leaving behind the eggs, but when used with the oral tablets, fleas in any stage are eliminated.

If your dog has fleas, bathe him or her with a flea shampoo to kill the adults, and apply a topical treatment when the dog's coat is dry. If you have multiple dogs, it is important to treat each one and apply the preventative topical treatments. For ticks, remove the pest by first swabbing it with alcohol and grabbing it where the mouth is attached to the skin and pull gently, yet firmly with tweezers.

PetSmart's article 'Ick is for Tick' gives tips on further prevention and treatment of fleas and ticks: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Ick-Is-for-Tick-1131386.htm

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