FLEA AND TICK SEASON IS HERE
One of the most common problems that all dog owners face are fleas and ticks. As the weather improves and we spend more time outdoors, these pesky bugs can be an annoying part of being a pet and a pet owner. In addition to skin irritation and other external issues, pets are also at risk for flea and tick born diseases and internal complications including tapeworms, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others. Because winter was so mild, we will see higher than normal rates of these parasites this summer and veterinarians are asking pet owners to be diligent in their prevention efforts.
The following tips and strategies are designed to help you and your pet this season.
- Start your FLEA AND TICK PREVENTATIVE now. Many people stop these products during the winter months and, if you did as well, now is the time to discuss these with your vet and get started. Good preventatives can be purchased at K-9 Coach, your veterinarian and other reputable sources. We do not generally recommend purchasing them online as quality control and authenticity are often issues.
- Use a pre-packaged aerosol product that contains an insecticide and a growth regulator. These are the ones most commonly used by licensed professionals and they prevent fleas from molting to their final stage and becoming sexually mature. This combination is designed and tested to have enough residual life to outlast the flea life cycle, thus ending its reproduction cycle. Some commonly used products are Precore 2625 premise spray and PT Alpine Flea and Bedbug Treatment, just to name a few, but there are many others. As with all pesticides, follow the label and safety instructions very carefully.
- Fleas are known to be repelled by citrus. The juice from a freshly squeezed orange or lemon can be lightly rubbed onto your pet’s fur to help ward off these invaders. Make sure to AVOID citrus oil ‘extracts’ as they are not safe for cats and dogs at all.
- Launder pet beds and furniture covers, vacuum and disinfect floors not just around your pet’s living spaces, but all over. If you find that your pup has brought home some of these little free-loaders, a good Spring cleaning can help control the population of fleas. Always dump the bag or canister of the vacuum, since fleas can continue to live inside the container.
- In the yard, you might consider adding natural predators. These can include “beneficial” nematodes, lady bugs and even fire ants. Nematodes are small worms that are easy to find at garden stores or pet shops. They feed off flea larva and are highly effective with a noticeable improvement in flea population within two days. Keep in mind that the type of nematode that is being recommended here is termed a “beneficial” nematode. Lady bugs can also be found at your local gardening shop and can eat an average of 50 insects a day. Finally, fire ants, which most of us avoid and try to get rid of, can be a friendly ally for flea and tick control. They are known to eat flea larvae, so if you have them in your yard, you may want to practice some controlled fire ant management that limits them to some areas of the yard rather than complete eradication of them.
- Ticks hang out in the tall grass and use the opportunity to grab onto passersby when they feel body warmth — which they are very good at doing. If you are going to be spending time in wooded or grassy areas with your dog, you might want to fashion some cover-up clothing for your dog to avoid ticks. An old t-shirt can be altered to fit your dog’s body, and old socks can be cut to make “leg warmers.” This may not entirely prevent ticks from making their way onto your dog, but it may work to keep most of them off since they have nothing to latch onto, and will slow the rest down so they do not spend as much time on your dog’s skin (the longer ticks stay on the skin, the more likely they are to transmit disease).
- Because ticks carry dangerous bacteria, repelling them is a priority. One of the natural repellents that a lot of people have success with is rose geranium oil, which can be applied to your dog’s collar. Do NOT use rose geranium oil on your cat, though. Cats can have a bad reaction to essential oils, primarily because they spend a lot of time grooming, which means that anything on their skin goes into their mouth.
- Check your pet every few days at the least and even multiple times a day when your pet has been in wooded, high-grass areas. If you find fleas or tick, remove them immediately. Proper technique is important for removing ticks, so make sure that you consult a veterinarian before doing it yourself.
- Regular grooming and a warm bath can work wonders. Since fleas do not grasp and hold onto the hair shafts, they fall off in the water. A good dip in a tub of water will wash away most, if not all, of the fleas on your pet. Using a gentle pet shampoo along with a thorough brushing will go a long way toward ridding your pet’s body of fleas. Professional groomers are well adept at these skills and can even apply preventative and advise as to the overall health of your pup’s skin and coat.
To help our customers and their pups this time of year, we are offering a $5 discount on grooming services when you buy any flea and tick product in our store.
We hope these K-9 points help you and your pup stay safe and make the most out of this great time of year.