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YOUR GUIDE TO FLEA SEASON: 

The first sign your dog may have fleas is the flea dirt that accumulates within their fur. You will see the flea dirt way before you ever see a flea. Flea dirt looks like large pepper flakes - it is the flea feces. Fleas are sucking your dog’s blood therefore, when you go to wash your dog and see a red tint in the water that is a sign of the flea dirt being rinsed away. This alone is not enough to get rid of the fleas, but you do need to wash that away dirt before you move forward with a flea treatment.

Your dog will begin showing signs of fleas such as scratching, licking or chewing in a quick jerking reactions. If you find 5 fleas or less, it’s not yet an infestation so you will just need to do the following. First give your dog a flea bath and leave your dog lathered for 10 minutes (Star Barks tip: shampoo twice always!) then treat with Frontline (or similar). You may also consider getting a carpet or fabric spray to avoid fleas multiplying and causing an infestation in your home. 

When and how do you know you have a flea infestation? When you see more than 5 fleas on your dog you need to take the following actions to get rid of the infestation in your dog’s environment. You can do that by fumigating your home and your dog’s environment. If you avoid this step your dog can have fleas for months or even years! A flea infestation that goes untreated can cause a tapeworms and even become anemic because of how much blood they are losing over time. 

Star Barks recommended products to treat your dog for fleas can be found here: https://amzn.to/3O1nYs5

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7 Signs Your Dog May Have an Ear Infection:

  1. Scratching of the ear or area around the ear – Is your dog using its back legs to scratch behind or around their ear? Maybe you’ve noticed matted fur around their ears? This is one of the first signs your dog’s ear is bothering them and may be infected.
  2. Hair loss around the ear - If your dog has irritation within their ear then it is likely they will be scratching at it which may cause a bald spot or what is known as a hotspot. This is a sign to check your dog’s ear.
  3. Rust or Yellow Color Excessive Color Discharge or Black Ear Wax – You may notice a yellow discharge run down the side of the face or a crumbly black wax inside the ear.  If you see any discharge or excessive wax this is a clear sign something is not right and you should make an appointment to see the veterinarian
  4. Odor in the Ear – Odor in or around the ear means something is accumulating within the ear, likely bacteria caused by water left in the ear. Ear cleaner and drops will likely treat this but if the odor or itching persists then it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
  5. Redness and scabs inside the ear or swelling of the ear leather – If your dog has redness or scabs inside his/her ear or swelling inside the canal, then they likely have an ear infection. If the outside leather of the ear is swollen this is called hematoma and stems from an internal ear infection.
  6. Rubbing of the ear on the floor or furniture – Has your dog started rolling on the ground and rubbing their ear against the carpet or rug? Maybe they’ve started rubbing their head on the furniture? That’s a sign to check inside and around their ear for any of the aforementioned signs of an ear infection. 
  7. Head shaking or head tilt - Your dog isn’t shaking their head or tilting it to one side for no reason. This is a clear sign that something inside/around the ear is bothering them. Tilting their head means something in the inner ear is causing them to be off balance and needs your attention. 

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Everything You Need to Know about Ticks:

Let’s talk about ticks! Ticks come out before fleas in early spring – after the frost and right before the heat shows up. It’s hard to spot a tick unless you’re regularly petting or grooming your dog. It’s important to know that ticks can latch on to any part of your dog’s body. 

So what happens when you find a tick? What should you do? FIrst let’s talk about what NOT to do: 

DON’T:

  • Stick a match or flame to it
  • Pour anything on it
  • Rub or push on it
  • Take tweezers to it

What happens when you do any of that the tick will become agitated and regurgitate a toxic liquid into your dog’s skin, leaving a red irritated sore.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO instead: 

Reach down, pull it off and flush it down the toilet or stick it in a water bottle and seal it. That’s it! The best thing you can do is just get it off your dog swiftly and without causing agitation to the tick or your dog. 

Star Barks Tip: After a long walk or your dog being outside for an extended period of time grab your blow dryer and blow it over their entire body. This will separate the fur allowing you to see down into the skin and discover any ticks.

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Did you know you should be cleaning your dog’s ears once a week to maintain a healthy ear canal?

That may seem excessive, but if your dog is prone to dirty ears or ear infections then once a week really is ideal. If your dog spends time in water or a wet environment you should clean their ears – mostly to eliminate the moisture – each time after getting wet. Cleaning your baby’s ears doesn’t have to be burdensome with Star Bark’s simple steps to clean ears.

  1. First you need an ear cleaner. You can find Star Barks recommended ear cleaner here: (link) 
  2. Firmly hold your dog’s head, open up the ear exposing the folds in their ear leather.
  3. Liberally pour the cleaner inside the ear making sure to hold your dog’s head so they don’t shake prematurely.
  4. Massage the base of the ear making sure the ear cleaner covers the entire ear canal
  5. Now let go and step back because  it’s time for your dog to shake his/her head 
  6. Once they are done take a cotton ball wiping out any debris that is inside the canal –(Use q-tips only on the folds if needed)
  7. Repeat all these steps in the other ear

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DOGS DON'T ITCH OR LICK FOR NO REASON

Have you noticed your dog scratching, licking, or chewing on their coat or paws a lot? Is it driving you crazy? I know it does me when my dogs are doing that. The excessive licking, chewing or itching is a sign that something is wrong and it's time to investage what could be the source.

WHY?

First let's talk about why they are scratching, chewing or licking. There are several things that could be causing these issues and these are a few of the top reasons: 

FLEAS:

Often times when dog parents notice this behavior their first instinct is that their dog has fleas. Chances are your dog does NOT have fleas and this is why. what Fleas are easily identifiable and would cause itching or chewing in several areas on their body. So, first go ahead and check their coat for tiny black bugs. If you don't find any which, if they have fleas you will find quite a lot then, you can eliminate that concern.

Now that you know it (is or) isn't fleas observe your dog and take note if they are focusing on a specific area or two. If so, check the area(s) for a bite mark similar to a mosquito bite. If you don't see a bite but you see red and irritated skin the next possible cause may be...

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SEASONAL ALLERGIES:

Has your dog been outside rolling around in the grass or playing in muddy puddles? Their skin may be reacting to something outside. Your first step is to give them a bath. After you give them a bath if they continue chewing, licking or scratching...

FOOD REACTION:

I want you to think about any changes that you've made recently to their diet. Did they get treats they have never tried before? Did you switch their food? Even if you did make the switch in food by the book their body may be having a poor reaction to the new food. Many times a change in their diet will cause dry and itching skin. If this is the case I suggest going back to their previous food if they didn't have issues with it or try them on NUTRO, my #1 recommended brand dog parents no matter the breed. To learn more about why I love this brand and how to feed a premium diet click here

EAR INFECTIONS:

Haven't made any dietary changes? The next probable issue -- more times than not -- is an ear infection. Notice when your dog is scratching if they are doing so behind the ear. Or maybe they are rolling around rubbing their ears on the floor. If this is the case then your next stop is the vet to get their ears checked and treated. If your dog is prone to ear infections click here for a few products to keep on hand to help minimize the vet visits and bills.  

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WHAT IS A PREMIUM DIET?

As a dog parent chances are you want what is best for your pup. This includes feeding them quality dog food. No good dog parent is intentially feeding their dog a food that is lacking proper nutrition, but with so many dog food options available this may happen without you knowing it. Most dog parents choose their dog's food based on familiarity to one brand, continuing with what they ate before you adopted them or because of a suggestion from someone you trust -- like your vet. So, how do you know if your dog is not getting a premium diet that meets their nutritional needs? 

FIRST TWO INGREDIENTS:

The easiest way to determine if your dog food is a good one is to check the first two ingredients lsited on the bag. You want to confirm whether or not the dog food you purchased is nutritional or filled with fillers that do not nourish your dog.

First ingredient: The first ingredient should always be the meat/protein: chicken meal, lamb meal, fish meal

Second ingredient: The second should always be brown or white rice. 

WRONG INGREDIENTS:

What you don't want to see listed is an ingredient list that starts like this: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Meat And Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat. If your dog food starts with anything but the protein/meat meal and brown/white rice then it's time to consider a new brand. Why is that? Because the ingredients included are not providing very little nutritional value for your dog and instead are just "filling" their bellies. 

A FEW PREMIUM DOG FOOD BRANDS INCLUDE:

  • Nutro - My #1 pick and most recommended brand
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Merrick 
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