How to keep bugs away from your dog

Spring is here, and warmer weather and longer days are on their way. Unfortunately, as nature comes alive, so do pesky bugs. Critters like fleas, ticks and mosquitos are not only irritating for your dog, they can also be harmful. Fleas can make your dog itchy and cause his skin to become damaged. Ticks can cause Lyme disease. Heartworm, spread by mosquitos, can create major heart damage to your pup. To keep these creepy crawlers away from your dog, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips:

• Prevention. There are a variety of preventative products that you can use on your dog to ward off ticks and fleas. Spot-on treatments are a popular choice and typically require just one application a month between the dog’s shoulders. Work with your veterinarian to find the treatment plan that’s best for your dog. Be sure to read the product instructions before using. If you are using spot-on treatments on your dog, be sure to bathe him less frequently. The product spreads through skin oils and will be less effective if skin is dried by shampoo.

• Coat check. It’s important to check your dog’s coat regularly for ticks and fleas. This can be done by running your hands through your dog’s coat or using a flea comb. A flea comb has tightly spaced teeth and is great for trapping and removing fleas from your dog’s coat. Examine your dog for ticks and fleas including his ears, belly, armpits and tail. If you find a tick, you can remove it yourself by using tweezers or tick-removal devices. Carefully grab the tick and then pull out straight and slow to get both the body and head.

• Keeping your home bug-free. Be sure that your home is dry. Mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant water that can be found around the house such as in flower pots. Be sure to routinely wash your dog’s bed so nothing has time to develop where your pup sleeps. Vacuuming your carpets often, at least once a week, will reduce critters as well. Make sure to throw out the vacuum bag when you’re done to be safe. If your dog or home does get a flea infestation and the problem persists, hire an exterminator or pest control.