Spring has sprung and with it, flea and tick season has too. As much as we love our pets, sometimes they bring in unwelcome critters from outside that we’d rather live without.

What harm comes from fleas and ticks?

Both can transmit infectious diseases including typhus, flea-born spotted fever, cat scratch disease, tapeworms, lyme disease, and many others.

What kinds of flea & tick prevention should you use?

As any responsible cat or dog owner knows, flea and tick prevention is vitally important to your pets’ overall health. Before making a decision about how best to treat your furbaby, always make sure to consult your veterinarian. For a dog they may recommend a topical option, an oral preventative, or even a prevention collar to wear. Cats can prevent fleas and ticks with a shampoo bath, spray, topical or oral medication.  Be careful not to use products made for dogs on cats, or vice versa.  The results could be deadly!

“Natural” or Chemical?

Reviews are mixed concerning using a more natural form of flea/tick control.  If you’re wary of using chemicals on your dog or cat, you may be tempted to try a natural-sounding remedy, such as a spritz of apple cider vinegar or a product with essential oils.  Some veterinarians warn that the chemicals in “traditional” forms of prevention are ineffective or hazardous to a pet’s health while other vets have the same complaint regarding natural forms of prevention.  It is true that most “natural” remedies are not regulated by the FDA or EPA.  So how do you decide?  This is not a one-size-fits-all decision.  It’s important to do your research and weigh the pros/cons of each with your veterinarian.  References below can give you a good start to making an informed decision for your personal situation.

Other ways to combat fleas and ticks:

These can be used in combination with regular treatments.

  • Regularly inspect your dogs or cats, especially when they spend a lot of time outdoors. You can check their feet, in-between toes, under their legs, under their collar, around the tail, ears, and around the eyes. An easy way to do this is to simply feel for bumps all over your dog or cat and part their hair to further inspect whenever you feel an unusual bump.
  • Maintain your yard. Keep your grass short and remove any fallen leaves or brush from your yard.
  • Use cedar mulch. Fleas hate cedar!
  • If you own multiple animals, dogs or cats, be sure to treat them all at the same time, otherwise you could run into cross-contamination issues. As such, keeping your pets away from other animals can dramatically reduce exposure to fleas and ticks.
  • If your pet gets fleas, make sure to treat the entire surrounding environment. Wash all bedding in hot water and vacuum carpets and sofas. DIY traps that use a bright light shined above a wide, shallow pan of water mixed with dish soap can be effective.  You can fog the interior of the home if the infestation is particularly bad.