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Welcome to the first installment of Dear Maxine, where my canine, feline, and occasional human friends, write in to ask for all kinds of advice. Advice on things from immunizations, to training, grooming or what ball is best for fetch. (Full disclosure, my human mom helps me type this.) Let’s jump right in!


My first letter is from a Basset Hound right here in Midwest, who writes:

Dear Maxine,

For the last few days, I’ve had the “itchies.” At first I thought it was simply a rash from the new spring grass. But what started out as red bumps on my tummy has turned into all over itching and irritation. I haven’t been around many canine friends because of social distancing and it’s too early in the season for fleas, right?


Itchy in Indiana


Dear Itchy,

I’m so glad you reached out for help with this issue! I hate to break it to you but a red, irritated belly, with bumps on the skin, as well as “dirt” in the ears, can all be signs of FLEAS. And you may think it’s too early in the season for these itchy creatures here in the middle of the country, but you would be wrong.

Fleas are the number one parasite found on cats and dogs and there are more than 2,000 species of fleas. Fleas can prove quite a menace. One flea can produce up to 500 babies and even if you see only a few fleas, you must remember there are a lot more (up to 90% more) that are unseen. Add to this, the fact that one flea can bite you up to 400 times, and you have more than a pesky problem. And while fleas thrive best in warm, humid conditions, (70 degrees or above), they can survive in near freezing temperatures. When it gets cold outside, these sneaky little parasites, simply move to a warmer environment...your home.

If your parents think you have fleas, please tell them to ask your veterinarian for treatment options. Luckily, there are things your human mom and dad can do to prevent these horrible creatures from invading. And the best news is all of these products are easy to use and the cost for these preventatives are considerably less than paying for vet visits and treatments after you’ve been infected.

There are many over-the-counter, as well as prescription meds, that prevent these pesky invaders. It is best to discuss options with your doctor, so that you are aware of all side effects associated with these medications. Most medications are given on a monthly basis. My mom writes this on the calendar to help her remember. And because we learned that these creatures can live year round, professionals agree it is best to treat your pet twelve months a year.

Well, that’s all for now (no longer) Itchy in Indiana. I hope you and your humans have learned something about pest prevention. Remember preventative medicine, exercise, good nutrition and immunizations are key to keeping us happy and healthy for many years.

Signing off for now,

Maxine (& Brenda Storms)


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