The most widespread concern for pet owners is fleas and ticks on dogs. These insects are most likely to strike during spring and summer although pets can pick them up throughout most of the year.
Dogs are at the highest risk of attack since they spend the most time outdoors and around areas where they are likely to pick up the parasites. The good news for pet owners is flea and tick infestations are not just treatable but also preventable.
How Fleas and Ticks Get On Your Dog
Despite your best efforts, it is possible that your dog will contract fleas or ticks since there are so many different ways to get them.
The great outdoors may be exciting for your dog but there are infinite places where ticks and fleas may be laying in wait. Potential places where your dog may pick them up include during walks around the neighborhood, at the veterinarian office, playing with other dogs, at the groomer, at boarding kennels, and even in your own back yard.
Human beings can also pick them up from their pets or in hiking areas where ticks and fleas are plentiful. These parasites are masters at hiding and can easily latch on to shoes, socks, and pant legs without detection.
They also like to feed on animals such as small rodents, raccoons, squirrels, and skunks. These animals may break into your yard despite your best efforts to secure it, and introduce the pests to your property.
Homeowners who leave pet food or water outside are likely to unwittingly attract other animals foraging for a meal. These intruders may be carrying fleas and ticks which are especially a concern if you have feral cats around your property.
How to Prevent Fleas and Ticks
As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. You don’t have to sit and wait until the next time your pet is attacked. Here are the best ways to protect your dogs from fleas and ticks.
1. Tidy Up Your Yard
Keep your lawn mowed, prune your trees and shrubs, and remove any piles of leaves as soon as possible. Ticks and fleas like to hide in tall grass, bushes and clutter so keeping a clean and neat yard will go a long way to making the environment unsuitable for the pests. I also strongly recommend that you check out our longer guide on how to keep ticks out of your yard if you live in an area susceptible to ticks.
In addition, both of these pests love to feed on wildlife, so it’s recommended to deter as many unwanted animals away from your property. Animals that may be introducing them include raccoons, coyotes, opossums, and skunks among other animals.
It’s not simply that these animals may be bringing live ticks to your yard; they may also deposit eggs which later hatch and infest your yard and pets. Every precaution you take to keep wildlife out of your yard brings you a step closer to getting rid of infestations in and around your home.
2. Use a Flea and Tick Collar
Flea and tick collars are great products for keeping ticks and fleas away from your pet. The collars release gas or other substance that is toxic to fleas but safe for your pet. The substance soaks into the animal’s fur and skin and repels or kills these pests on contact.
Seresto Flea and Tick Collar
Seresto Flea and Tick Collar is a great product that keeps your dog safe. You place the collar around your dog’s neck and it periodically releases small doses of powerful active ingredients on your dog’s fur to exterminate any ticks and fleas before they have a chance to stay too long on your dog.
The flea collar works for up to 8 months and is waterproof.
3. Spray a Vinegar Solution on Your Dog
Mix in one or two parts vinegar and one part water into a spray bottle and shake vigorously. Spray the solution on your pets, being careful not to get it into the dog’s eyes. You can also mix in the vinegar and water in a bowl, dip a comb into the solution and comb your dog’s fur to get the mixture deep into the coat.
This solution doesn’t kill fleas but is shown to be effective for repelling them.
4. Keep Things Clean
A simple yet very effective way of keeping ticks and fleas off your dogs is to maintain a clean indoor environment. This especially true for any items that your dog touches frequently such as dog furniture and pillows, carpets where the dog likes to lie, and any dog toys.
Vacuum and wash thoroughly and as often as possible to prevent ticks and fleas from infesting your home.
5. Treat for Ticks and Fleas All Year
Ticks and fleas thrive in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F and are bountiful during summer and spring. However, these critters can also survive indoors during the winter or deep inside animal fur.
Experts recommend treating for fleas all year round and not simply wait until flea and tick season to begin the treatment.
Frontline Plus is a topical treatment for large breeds (between 45 and 88 pounds) that protects your dogs against ticks, fleas, mites, and chewing lice. The product is easy to apply and works for up to 30 days.
Such a treatment ensures that your dog continues with his regular routine including playing outside without risk of picking up the dreaded pests, including during peak tick and flea season.
Advantage II Flea Treatment
Advantage II Flea Treatment is a great alternative for smaller dog breeds weighing between 3 and 10 pounds. This product provides active protection against fleas for up to 30 days including protection from flea eggs and larvae. Advantage II Flea Treatment is waterproof so you don’t need to place any limits on your pet.
6. Inspect your Dog Regularly
Check your dog for fleas and ticks every time you come in from outside, especially during high tick season. Catching and treating ticks and fleas early drastically reduces the chances of your dog getting sick and the pests multiplying inside the house.
Run your fingers slowly through your pet’s fur feeling for any crusty spots, bumps, or lumps. Feeling any of these may indicate that your dog has ticks. Pay attention to the face, ears, belly, and legs where ticks prefer to hide.
Run a fine-tooth comb through your pet’s hair and check for tiny spots that seem to be moving. This is what fleas look like.