The warmer temps of spring bring humans and pets alike out of their homes—and out of their shells—for playtime, longer walks, and lounging in the sun. Unfortunately, they also bring out the fleas and ticks.
The threat, and timing, of flea infestations and ticks varies around the country, but in general they thrive in warm, humid environments, says PetMD. Ask your veterinarian about the risks for your area and recommended prevention options. And be aware that trends are shifting.
“In recent years, ticks that were more commonly found in the Southern part of the country have started to expand their populations into northern areas,” the website cautions. “[Some types of ticks] are making their way to climates that were previously too cold for them. With warming temperatures, wildlife conservation programs, reforestation, and expansion of urban areas, tick migration is on the rise.”
Flea bites can be itchy and even painful for your pup or kitty, and if the infestation gets out of hand, the blood loss could lead to anemia. Even worse, if your dog ingests fleas while grooming, it could lead to parasitic tapeworms in their intestines. Ticks may carry life-threatening diseases for dogs and humans.
Dogs and Fleas — Prevention Is Key
- The best way to avoid flea and tick issues is to keep pests off your dog altogether or ensure they’re killed soon after. The most common forms of preventative treatments are flea collars, topically applied treatments, sprays, and oral or injectable medications. Be sure to follow directions to ensure effectiveness of any treatment.
If you go the flea collar route, check out Coastal Pet’s SecureAway collar too protect it and add some style.
- Consult with your veterinarian before deciding on a treatment plan to ensure you’re using the best option for your particular dog’s needs.
- Keep your property clear of grass clippings, leaves, straw, and other piles of organic matter. The warm, moist, shady environment they create is flea paradise. Try to keep your dog from rolling around in these areas, as well. Fleabites.net also suggests keeping your grass trimmed short, since fleas can hide in tall grass.
- Check your dog for ticks every day. If you find one, remove it with clean tweezers or a tick remover. Pull it straight out, ensuring the head or other part doesn’t get left behind. Clean the wound with disinfectant and treat with a triple antibiotic ointment.
Flea Treatment Tips for Pets
Once fleas take hold, pack your patience. Treatment may take some time—and a lot of repetition. Follow directions and be vigilant.
- If your dog or cat gets fleas, flea shampoo and a flea comb can help capture adult fleas. (Be sure to consult with your vet first to make sure you’re choosing an approved shampoo and one that is suitable for your animal’s breed and fur type.) Because younger fleas and eggs may remain, you’ll need to repeat the process multiple times to ensure you are getting the fleas that are earlier in their life cycle when treatment starts and to keep eggs from hatching; a one-time bath is likely not going to be enough to eradicate the issue.
- At the same time, treat your home. Vacuum high-traffic areas, including furniture and under furniture, every day and the whole house weekly; empty and discard vacuum bags after each use.
- Wash your pets’ beds weekly until the problem is eliminated.
- If the situation doesn’t improve, consider a whole-house treatment, such as a fogger, to kill adults as well as eggs and larvae. Make sure to follow all instructions and plan ahead for keeping your family and pets out of the home during treatment.
Protect Your Pet From Fleas In Style
Protect your flea collar while your flea collar protects your pet: Coastal Pet’s SecureAway collar slips over flea collars to protect them from damage and help keep them in place. Plus: with bright collars and fun patterns, SecureAway delivers a more stylish look. Design options include a simple solid black, solid red, blue with multi-colored bones, or pink with paw prints. Extra small, small, medium, and large sizes are available, up to 26 inches.
“Even if you live in an area of the U.S. that may not be known for having large numbers of fleas and ticks, your pet may still benefit from preventive medications,” says PetMD. “Your veterinarian can give you the best advice as to your pet's risk for flea infestation or tick-borne diseases. Prevention is always easier, safer, and less expensive than treating a disease once it's become established in your pet.”