Protect Your Pet From Fleas and Ticks

Friday, June 21, 2013

How to Keep Fido Safe This Summer

 

Pet Pests - Ticks FleasSummer has officially arrived and all members of the family, including the four-legged variety, will be spending more time outdoors soaking up the sunshine. However, pesky pests such as ticks and fleas can quickly ruin a warm-weather day, especially for pets such as dogs and cats that can’t quite protect themselves the same way people do.

Both of these pests pose different dangers for furry family members, but by employing some key prevention tips, pet owners can ensure their animals stay pest-free this summer.

Ticks

Whether hiking in the woods or simply enjoying a barbeque in the park, people and animals are likely to encounter these bloodthirsty pests during the warmer months. Ticks pose a number of health threats as they can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and "tick paralysis" among others. While some symptoms can surface immediately after a tick bite, others can be difficult to recognize and many owners may not realize their pet is sick until the symptoms become severe and significant treatment is needed.

Experts from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommend the following tips to keep your pet safe from ticks this summer:

  • Upon returning indoors, inspect dogs and outdoor cats thoroughly.
  • If a tick is found attached, it should be removed with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. If possible, it’s best to use forceps or tweezers and grab on or just behind the mouthparts. If using fingers, the fingernails of the thumb and forefinger should be placed on or just behind the mouthparts. Once removed, flush the tick down the toilet or wrap it tightly in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle since ticks are difficult to smush. Then, wash hands and the attachment site thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Keep grass cut low, including around fence lines, sheds, trees, shrubs, swing sets and other difficult to cut locations and remove weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard.
  • Inquire about lawn tick treatments; especially those that focus on the edges of the lawn where it interfaces with natural areas. This method has the greatest chance of preventing ticks from establishing themselves in your back yard.
  • Speak to a veterinarian about tick collars and medications. According to a new tick survey from the NPMA, only 35 percent of respondents ensure pets have preventative tick treatments.

Fleas

Dogs and cats most often get infested with fleas through contact with other animals or by spending time outdoors. Most pets experience itching from fleas, but some sensitive animals can have more severe reactions such as hair loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections. Flea saliva can also cause anemia, dermatitis, and facilitate the transfer of tapeworms. Because of fleas’ ability to jump great heights, they are easily able to hitchhike into homes while hidden in the fur of family pets. Once inside, fleas quickly multiply and infest bedding, furniture and clothing.

Because fleas can quickly become a big problem, prevention is the best way for pet owners to avoid a major headache. NPMA suggests owners discuss which preventative measures are best for their pets as several effective products exist. Experts also encourage owners to bathe their pets frequently, frequently wash human and pet bedding, pet collars and their plush toys, and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture on a regular basis.

To learn more about flea and tick prevention, watch our Pest 101 video on protecting your pet from common pests.