All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fly Strikes, Dogs

Dear Marie,
When the weather warms up, flies start to hang around my yard. They just swarm and hover around one of my dogs but bite the ears of my other dog.  I have tried the creams from the vets and keeping the yard clean, but to no avail. My dog's ears start looking bloody in no time. Would you please help me? I'm at a loss.  I can't bring my dogs into the house. My mother is allergic to the dogs and I have a cat who doesn't get along with them.

Dear Al,
Sometimes, no matter how clean one keeps a yard or how often one applies creams to the ears of pets, dogs are still victimized by flies.  It only takes a few minutes for a group of flies to severely injure a confined animal and cause permanent tissue damage.  Needless to say, fly bites are quite painful and your dog should be protected as much as possible.

Dogs in poor health or those with upright ears tend to be targeted more than healthy, floppy-eared dogs. I have seen many German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers who lost a significant portion of healthy ear tissue due to fly bites.  It’s very disturbing, especially when one considers how easy these injuries are to avoid.  Simply, bring the dogs indoors.

I understand that you are facing two prominent hurdles: your cat and your mom.  Let’s address your cat issue first. 

Keep your dogs confined to a section of the house.  Make sure that none of your cat’s favorite things are where the dogs will be.  Put her food, water, litter box, bed and any special toys in her favorite room(s).  Keep the dogs away from those areas by using baby gates.  Your cat will be able to easily scale the barriers as well as venture into the dog areas when she feels secure enough to do so.  You will find that the three animals will establish fairly peaceful co-existence in a very short amount of time.

Dealing with your mother’s allergies will be a little more challenging.  You must bathe both dogs at least once a week using a shampoo specifically formulated for animals.  Human shampoos have an improper pH balance that will actually cause your dogs to become itchy and scaly.  This could aggravate your mother’s symptoms. 

Be sure to completely rinse off your dogs.  It’s important not to leave a shampoo residue.  The best way to be certain that there is no leftover shampoo is to rinse each dog two to three times with clean, running water.  If you are using a filled bathtub, drain the wash water and each separate tubful of rinse water.

Towel dry your pets.  Do not use a blow dryer.  Then, allow them to air dry completely.  Once they feel dry to the touch, dampen a washcloth with a product such as Allerpet and apply according to labeling directions.  These topical solutions will significantly reduce or even eliminate the antigens that trigger human allergies.

Your mother will be able to enjoy your dogs and your dogs will be able to live a happy, fly-free life.  You will probably notice many other wonderful “side-effects” from these new, better animal/human living arrangements as well.  The personalities of dogs blossom when they are allowed to be indoors with their families and people tend to be more relaxed and content in the company of pets.  It’s a win-win situation.

I realize that I have outlined a plan that will take a lot of effort and time.  Sometimes I get letters from readers saying that I expect too much from pet owners.  That may be true.  However, when one makes the commitment to bring a pet into his or her home, there are real responsibilities that go along with that.  Anything short of providing a companion animal with a safe, healthy and happy life is irresponsible pet ownership.  Animals deserve our love, not neglect. 

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