A mild winter and above-average summer temperatures have led to an increase in tick activity in Michigan. And ticks aren’t the only pests that pet owners should be concerned about this season. It’s also the most critical time of year to watch out for fleas, which thrive in hot, humid conditions.
That’s why it’s important to take preventive measures this summer to keep fleas and ticks from feeding on your pet. Using topical liquids and shampoos, keeping yards clean, and checking pets frequently for these parasites can help keep dogs and cats healthy throughout the year.
Here’s how to protect your pet from fleas and ticks – and what to do if you find them.
1. Use preventives
Although fleas and ticks are most commonly found during the spring and summer months, they also can appear in the fall and winter. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, can remain active during the winter if temperatures are above freezing. Fleas, too, can survive during the winter – particularly indoors, where they live in carpets, in bedding and on pets.
Veterinarians recommend that pets have a flea and tick preventive year-round.
A preventive topical liquid like Frontline Plus can be applied onto your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Comparable preventatives are also available – some at a considerable cost savings. Sentry Natural Defense Flea & Tick Squeeze-on and Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Spot-on Treatment are a few good options. It’s recommended that pet owners repeat the treatment every month – even in the winter.
Natural preventatives are a great alternative as well. Wondercide Flea & Tick Natural Flea, Tick & Mosquito Control kills, repels and prevents 98-100% of fleas and ticks without harmful chemicals. Wondercide also offers flea and tick sprays and wipes that help to kill and repel pests.
Likewise, flea and tick collars, as well as chewables, can provide pets with the protection they need. You can also bathe your dog or cat using a flea and tick shampoo such as Adams Plus, which kills pests while soothing the skin with lanolin, aloe and oatmeal.
2. Clean up the yard
Fleas and ticks like to hide in tall grasses and moist, shady areas, so keeping your yard clean is critical for keeping them away.
Rake leaves and mow lawns frequently, and keep shrubs trimmed. Shorter lawns are drier, making it harder for fleas and ticks to survive.
Also consider using a spray product that can kill fleas and ticks that are living in lawns and bushes. Wondercide Flea & Tick Spray for Yard & Garden which kills adult pests, eggs and larvae, won’t harm bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects that live in backyards.
3. Do routine checks
Even with the best preventive measures, a flea or tick can still make its way onto your pet. Check regularly for these pests, and watch your pet for excessive scratching.
To check for fleas, run a flea comb through your pet’s fur. If there are black specks on the comb, it could be flea dirt – the fecal matter from fleas. You could also put a white towel under your pet and run your hands through your pet’s fur. If specks drop onto the towel, it might be flea dirt.
Ticks prefer dark, moist areas of pets’ bodies: Under the legs, behind the ears and between the toes are just a few examples. To look for ticks, check your pet for areas of the skin that are red or irritated. Use a flashlight if necessary to check inside the ears.
4. Take action to get rid of any fleas and ticks
If you do find a flea or tick, don’t panic.
To kill fleas, use a flea shampoo and spot treatment like Advantage II. A flea spray, such as Adams Plus Flea & Tick Spray, can help too.
It might take time to remove all of the fleas from your house. Wash your bedding in hot, soapy water, and thoroughly vacuum your floors – and don’t forget to throw away the vacuum bag. An in-home treatment, such as NaturVet No Flea Carpet Crystals, can also help kill fleas, eggs and larvae.
If you find a tick on your pet, use a tick-removal key or a pair of fine-point tweezers to extract it. Use the removal key or tweezers to grab the head of the tick and pull, then clean the s…