Improved products have made it easier to control fleas and ticks safely. Today, treating your dog preventatively usually takes care of the problem.
Take a Bite Out of Flea and Tick Season
They may be tiny enough to fit on the head of a pin, but fleas and ticks can cause big problems for dogs and their owners. In one day a single flea can bite your dog more than 400 times, consuming more than its body weight of your pet's blood. And before it's through, a female flea can lay hundreds of eggs on your unsuspecting pooch, making him the unwitting host of many future flea generations.
The resulting itching and scratching of flea bites can lead to skin irritations, allergic reactions, open sores, and even fur loss. Tick bites aren't just irritating, they may transmit diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And ticks can give those same infections to you.
When to treat your dog
Flea and tick season starts when the temperature rises above freezing at night—usually in late spring. It continues through summer and is often at its worst in September and October. Fleas thrive in temperatures between 65º and 80ºF and in conditions of high humidity. The best time to treat your dog is before these pests start laying eggs and biting, although many veterinarians believe that applying monthly spot-on treatments year round is the most effective approach.
Do your research
Improved products have made it easier to control fleas and ticks safely. Today, treating your dog preventatively usually takes care of the problem. Unless you have a serious infestation, you no longer need to spray the house and yard.
There are dozens of brands of flea and tick products available at supermarkets, pet supply stores, and veterinary offices. These include shampoos, spot-ons, sprays, wipes, collars, and dusts. Some, such as shampoos, may not have any residual effect to help eliminate a current infestation. Whichever you choose, read the label carefully and consult with your vet before using them. Remember, some products contain ingredients that may be harmful to pets and children, especially if used inappropriately.
Take these precautions to keep you and your dog safe:
Follow directions exactly. If the product is for dogs, don't use it on your cat or other pets. If the label says use weekly, don't use it daily. If the product is for the house or yard, don't apply it directly on your pet.
Protect yourself. Use protective gloves when applying. After applying any product, wash your hands immediately with soap and water.
Watch for side effects. If your pet shows symptoms of illness after treatment, call your veterinarian. Symptoms of poisoning may include poor appetite, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive salivation.
Check your dog regularly. Comb your pet with a flea comb, vacuum often, and dispose of the bags immediately after use. Also, mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly, and bathe your pet with a pet shampoo recommended by your veterinarian. If your dog spends time in wooded areas or fields with tall grass and weeds, check thoroughly for ticks.
Above all, keep your dog healthy. Fleas and other parasites have less effect on healthy pets and tend to live on those that have weak immune systems. And keep in mind that the best flea control is flea prevention.