Fleas and ticks are around all through the year in most regions in the United States, but it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid an infestation in humid and warm weather. If you love your pet, it’s never too early to safeguard them against an approaching flea season when infections become even more common.
So what do you do if you suspect that your dog has fleas or ticks? First of all, you need to ensure that your suspicion is correct.
Spot the fleas and ticks
Ticks are generally found in the woods, grasslands and areas with thick vegetation, so if you live in or near the woods, you need to keep an eye out for these pesky parasites. But they can also be found as easily in your lawn or garden, particularly when it’s tick season in your part of the country. They are adept at crawling up shrubs and jumping onto animals, so if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors in the grass, you need to be extra careful.
If you see your dog scratching excessively, before using any pest-control treatment find out if it is indeed an infestation that’s causing the itching and redness. You can do this by examining your pet’s coat for fleas and ticks. This can be done in three ways:
- Use a flea comb to comb out the fleas. Place a light-colored towel or cloth under your pet before you do this so you can easily identify the fleas falling off their skin.
- Examine manually the joints and folds that cannot be reached with a comb.
- Ticks might be harder to spot, but you can easily spot fleas as they are bigger in size and are brown-black in color.
- Watch out for flea dirt (flea waste), which is also black in color but if moved it leaves a brownish stain. Presence of flea dirt is a sign that your dog has fleas.
- Ticks, on the other hand, can be hard to spot as they are whitish to pale red in color and can be as small as the tip of a pen. Check the pet’s body thoroughly with your hands and use a flea comb where possible. If you come across a bump, it may be a tick.
Protect your dog from fleas and ticks
Take the following easy steps to reduce the risk of a flea/tick infection.
Wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks and coyotes, and domestic animals, such as stray cats and other people’s pets can infest your lawn and the area surrounding your home with fleas and ticks. The best way to limit this risk is to build a fence or place repelling plants to limit access of these animals in areas frequented by your dog.
Keeping the surrounding clean of tall grass, wild plants and shrubs is also a great way to limit the deposition of fleas and ticks.
Get your pet vaccinated for diseases transmitted by fleas and ticks, such as Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis.
Consider getting pest control for your property before the flea season, so that the chances of your pet getting infected are minimized, if not eliminated.
Get a pest-control formula for all your pets
While the above-mentioned measures may reduce the risk of infection, they cannot completely take away its possibility, so to avoid your beloved pet from suffering from a parasite infestation, be proactive and treat their skin and coat with a high-quality topical flea control product.
If you use the right product at the right time, you’ll no longer have to wonder, “What should I do if my pet has fleas?” Be sure to choose a product that not only kills adult fleas and ticks but is equally effective on eggs, larvae and pupae. This is important because only a fraction of flea eggs develop into adults. The majority of these parasites present in your home and on your pet are at different stages of the life cycle. A product cannot remove the infestation completely if it won’t eliminate the eggs and other flea stages.
Flea and tick control products generally require monthly application, which is easy to achieve even if you have a very busy lifestyle. For best results, begin the application before the flea season begins and continue each month—the entire year if possible. Fleas and ticks bring a host of deadly diseases with them which can even turn fatal. So take out time to treat your pet and you’ll have done them and your family a great favor!