Warm weather brings the opportunity for pet owners to enjoy the great outdoors with their furry friends, but it also brings the risk of flea and tick infestation.
Veterinarians across the country are expecting an abundance of fleas and ticks this year, due in part to warmer winter temperatures in some areas of the nation.
“Fleas and ticks are more than simple nuisances for your pets,” says Laura Petree, DVM, Manager of Technical Services for Central Garden and Pet Company. “They can cause your pet discomfort, and in the case of ticks, put your pets and your family at risk for a variety of diseases.”
Dr. Petree says flea eggs can account for 50 percent of a domestic flea infestation. One adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. If your pet has 10 fleas, your problem suddenly multiplies to 15,000 fleas in a month.
“In order to effectively protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks, you need to address any initial infestation problem, then keep the problem from coming back,” she says.
Take care of your pet and your family by having the right prevention and treatment options for your furry family member.
Prevention is the best course of action. Making your yard unfriendly to pests is a good place to start.
Don’t give fleas and ticks a welcoming environment. Mow regularly, keep shrubs trimmed, and rake up leaves. Keep the garbage covered so it won’t attract rodents, which means fleas and ticks won’t have any help getting close to your house.
You can also spray your yard to kill adult fleas and ticks. Outdoor sprays can be used on lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs. They kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, crickets and other insects. Spray wherever your pet frequents the most. Allow it to dry thoroughly before letting pets or people onto the treated area.
Preventive maintenance should be a regular part of your pet-care routine. Whenever you groom your dog or cat, check for fleas and ticks. Signs your pet has fleas include redness and scratching, as well as what’s known as flea dirt – black flea droppings left on your pet’s coat. Ticks are most commonly found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and in between the toes. Cats may also have them around the neck and face.
Topical treatments contain an insect growth regulator (IGR) that kills flea eggs and prevents re-infestation. They kill and repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes for up to 30 days. Many topical treatments are messy to apply, sometimes dripping on your hands, your pet and the floor, so consider using the Adams Smart Shield Applicator, which keeps liquid off your hands and lets you quickly get uniform applications down to your pet’s skin. Shampoos and mists can also be used to complement your pet’s regular flea and tick control maintenance.
Shampoos clean your pet by eliminating adult fleas, ticks and flea dirt. The active ingredients must come in contact with the pests for a certain period of time in order to be effective, and results are immediate. However, because shampoos have no long lasting effects, it’s a good idea to follow the shampoo with a dip or maintenance product.
Mists are used to kill fleas, ticks and mosquitoes on dogs and cats instantly. Flea eggs and larvae will be prevented for one to two months.
Controlling an infestation
Despite your best efforts, sometimes pets bring home some unwanted pests. When that happens, quickly kill biting adult fleas and offer several days of flea protection by using short-term control products for severe infestation problems. Sprays, dips, shampoos and other products can be used to help combat an infestation problem until it is under control.
Another important role in getting a flea infestation under control is vacuuming frequently. Vacuum before the first home treatment, and then daily for the next few weeks. This will help remove newly emerged fleas, flea dirt, eggs and some larvae from the carpets.
Treating your home with carpet powders, carpet sprays, room foggers or home sprays will also help control fleas. Every area your pet frequents should be treated, including the garage, basement, kennel and yard.
- Fleas are some of the best jumpers of all known animals. They can jump around 200 times their own body length.
- Only about 5 percent of the flea population is mature adults. The other 95 percent are in the egg, larva, or pupa stage of development.
- A female flea sucks up to 30 times her weight in blood – every day.
The Trouble with Ticks
- Ticks are not insects. They are actually arachnids and are closely related to mites, spiders and scorpions.
- Ticks don’t burrow under the skin. In order to feed, they actually bite.
- Only adult female ticks feed off the blood of their host.