Tips for a Flea- and Tick-Free Spring
rjaynes Dr. Robyn Jaynes, DVM
It’s that time of year again when many of us are gearing up for the start of spring and summer. While this is a great time of year for outdoor activities with our pets, it also opens the door for some other creatures to appear. Although fleas and ticks in many areas of the country are present year round, we certainly see seasonal increases and problems associated with fleas in the spring and summer.
While flea and tick infestations can be frustrating both to pets as well as their family members, it is important to realize that significant medical conditions are transmitted or related to the presence of these parasites. Some of the more common medical conditions associated with fleas and ticks include: Tapeworms, a common intestinal parasite, flea allergy dermatitis, a condition that may result in severe skin irritation and infection and various tick borne diseases. Treatment and prevention of fleas and ticks is critical to a happy, healthy summer for you and your pet.
So how is the best way to prevent fleas and ticks? And once present, how do you get rid of them? Flea and tick control is unfortunately not a one-step, easy answer but getting ahead of an infestation by prevention is certainly much easier than treatment.
For prevention, there are many spot on, topical products available now for cats and dogs that quickly kill fleas and ticks and even some that contain insect growth regulators which help to stop the flea and tick life cycle preventing issues associated with infestation. For complete prevention, it is important that all cats and dogs in the house be treated. Overall, spot on products are considered safe but products for cats and dogs of varying weights have differences in strength and chemical composition. Therefore, it is imperative that you use a product appropriate for the types of pets in your home to avoid life threatening reactions.
A second important area of concern with regards to prevention involves control of fleas and ticks in your yard. Regular pest control will help prevent large problems with fleas and ticks but will likely not eliminate them completely. If you and your pet enjoy activities outside of the house, you will want to pay careful attention to checking your dog for any critters that he or she may have picked up along the way. Yard/environmental control is most effective when done in conjunction with pet control.
By keeping the environment and your pet clean, you will have the best chance of preventing infestations. However, if you notice the presence of fleas and ticks on your pet and in your home, there are many options available for treatment. I recommend seeking assistance from a pest control specialist or exterminator for treatment of the house and the yard. For treatment of your pet, it will be important to bathe the pet with a flea and or tick shampoo appropriate for your pet to remove existing pests prior to administration of a topical, top spot product. Discussing specific recommendations for products with your veterinarian is the best option so that any pre-existing medical illnesses can be taken in to account.