Fleas and ticks are no fun for our pups. These little devils come to life in abundance in the spring and summer heat. Ticks can carry diseases, and can cause some pretty serious health issues for you and your pets, and fleas can wreak havoc on your pup’s sensitive skin! Prevention is the best course of action to keep those bad buggos away! Read on for your tools to help keep you and your pup safe and bug-free!
Make Sure Your Pup Is On A Flea Preventative.
This is the best way to keep fleas and ticks out of your hair. These come in all shapes and sizes! There are internal ones (a little pill), topical liquids, and types of collars.
Bonus: some topical treatments even help keep mosquitoes at bay!
Talk to Your Vet About All Options
You’ve got a lot of options, but some of these are available by prescription only. With choices ranging from internal, topical, to physical (flea collars), it’s best to team up with a trusted vet to discuss which option is the best fit for your pup.
Some Things to Consider When Discussing Pest Preventatives With Your Vet:
- Does your dog have sensitive skin?
- Is your dog allergic to anything? (Topical or food?)
- If using a topical, how often does your dog swim and how often do you bathe your pup?
- What kind of coat does your pup have?
Use Pet/Family Safe Products to Protect Your Space
Plenty of topical treatments can be oily, and often remain on the skin for some time. During this time, it is best not to touch that area of your pets coat. Keep this in mind if you have small kids around, who might pat the dog, then put their fingers in their mouths.
Fleas in your yard? No fun at all. Try these awesome, super groovy granules from EcoSmart. They are super easy to use, cover a large area, smell kind of fabulous, and work like a charm. Bonus–they repel ants and ticks!
Fleas Vs. Ticks, Know Your Pests
Ticks tend to live in more wooded areas, existing in bushes and brambles. While fleas prefer grasses and dark areas with plenty of moisture and heat.
Both detest environments with bright light and little moisture. Both of these critters feed on blood.
What To Do If You Find A Tick
If the tick is scittering across your pup, and unattached, then it’s fine to use a tissue, and pinch it off of your dog with you fingers. Give your dog a thorough look-over for bite marks. A bite mark will look like a big red mound. Check for any attached ticks, and other bites. ***
If you find a tick that IS attached, remove it following these steps:
- Make sure skin in the area is taught
- Using either fine-tip tweezers or a tick-removal tool, grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible.
- Pull back, slowly and steadily (if you pull too quickly, the head of the tick may remain in the skin, which still leaves risk of tick-borne disease).
- Be sure the head of the tick comes out, you should be able to tell if the tick is whole.
- If you plan to submit the tick for Lyme disease testing, be sure it is dead, and place it in an airtight container, before bringing it to your vet.
- If you do not plan to submit it for testing, flush it down the toilet, or burn it with a match in a safe place.
- Check your dog for any more ticks, and other bites.***
***In both situations, it’s best to call your vet to check for the best course of action. They may recommend you clean the wound, then come in for a blood test in a few weeks (as tick-borne illnesses can take a few weeks to incubate) to check for any issues. In the meantime, it’s always a good idea to watch the bite for any changes (swelling, pus, infection) and monitor your dog for any behavioral differences (lethargy, vomiting, anything unusual).
What To Do If You Find Fleas
Flea bites often start in the inguinal area of your dog’s body. This is the lower area of the belly near the groin, and is the darkest, warmest place on a dog’s body, so fleas love to make a home here.
If you suspect fleas, check you pup’s belly for pimple-like red spots or rash. Be sure your pup doesn’t go crazy licking and scratching, as that can lead to infection. Try a natural flea shampoo to get all of those buggies off, and to help soothe your pup’s skin! We’re huge fans of our fellow Austin-based company, Wondercide. They formulate their products to be completely family-safe, have plenty of amazing natural scents to choose from (think rosemary, gerannium, peppermint, or lemongrass!) and they offer not only shampoos, but house and yard treatments to keep fleas and pests away from your loved ones safely! Yay!
P.S. to help keep irritated skin feeling cool and comfortable, and clean from roaming bacteria, we love Vetricyn’s Antimicrobial Hot Spot Spray, because it’s easy to use, doesn’t kill off good bacteria, and helps keep itchy skin feeling cool and calm.
Fleas reproduce at an astounding rate, laying numerous eggs in each go. These eggs, as well as other life stages of the flea (pupae and adult), can drop off and wind up in other areas that your dog has been, such as bedding, carpet, etc. Because of this, it is important to remember that when treating for fleas, you must treat you home as well. Use a vacuum with a hepa-filter to go over any soft surfaces such as carpets, mattresses and couch cushions. Wash all bedding and soft surfaces, and for those which cannot be easily washed, put in the dryer on the highest acceptable heat for one cycle. You may also want to try diatomaceous earth, which kills fleas by dehydrating them. Pro-tip, avoid inhaling diatomaceous earth, and put it in places your kids and pets won’t breathe it in.
Keep your yard regularly mowed, and garden weeded, this will eliminate flea hiding-places in your outdoor space. If you’ve got some really tricky problem areas, like mostly shaded patches or mulch, you can also try out some kid and pet safe yard treatments EcoSmart’s Yard Granules. These are easy to use, cover a large area, smell kind of fabulous, and work like a charm. Bonus–they repel ants and ticks!
Whatever you and your pup are faced with in terms of pests, remember the key thing: stay calm! While they are pretty gross, fleas and ticks, are pretty common veterinary issues, and there are plenty of ways to prevent them, get rid of them, and treat for any boo-boos or issues that they may leave behind. Yes, they can be frustrating, and sometimes it may seem like a lot of work to rid yours and your pup’s lives of fleas, but if you keep on top of your preventative methods, you’ll be good as gold. You can do this!