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How to Protect Your Pet from Fleas and Ticks

Steve Penhollow
June 19, 2017

How you can keep your dog and cat safe.

Where fleas and ticks are concerned an ounce of prevention is worth about 16 tons of cure.

Scary yet impressive flea facts

  • Flea larvae can stay alive indoors in a semi-dormant state throughout the coldest months. Preventing fleas from entering your life in the first place may seem troublesome to you, but it is nothing compared to getting rid of them and then wondering if they're still around somewhere.
  • Eggs can be deposited around the house (carpeting, furniture, etc.) at a rate of 100 per day.

Speaking of the number 100, fleas can jump 100 times their own height, which makes you wonder if fleas are even now being studied by the Kansas State University School of Basketball Physiology. OK, so there isn't a School of Basketball Physiology at Kansas State University. But if there were, you can bet they'd be studying fleas.

How to prevent fleas and ticks from ever becoming a problem for your dog or cat:

  • Keep it clean

Cleanliness is next to pestlessness. Keep all of your pet's bedding clean, as well as all areas in your home where your pet spends much of its time. Be sure to throw out vacuum cleaner bags after filling them, as flea eggs continue to be viable within them.

  • Groom your environment

Unlike your neighborhood association, ticks don't like well-maintained lawns. If you keep your property well-maintained (free of brush, scrub and other single syllable synonyms for ugly vegetation), ticks will not thrive. Consider treating your lawn with flea and tick-killing chemicals, but read the instructions and warnings associated with such products carefully.

  • Keep your dog away from undergrowth and over growth.

Forests, meadows and other such locales can be full of ticks. If your dog does enter this type of environment, inspect him carefully for ticks afterwards.

Consult your veterinarian about chemicals and medications

There is a bewildering array of flea-and tick-repelling products out there: tablets, pills, collars, powders, dips, shampoos, foggers, granules, and topical medications. Some are designed to kill the eggs and some to kill the egg-laying adults.

While flea and tick medications have improved greatly of late, many over-the-counter products still depend on chemicals that are potentially harmful to your pet -- not to mention your children and you.

There are many strategies for natural and homeopathic flea and tick control out there, and some people swear by them. But the University of Nebraska debunks some of them in this study.

Talk to your vet about options. Some prescription treatments are safer than their over-the-counter counterparts.

The bottom line

Fighting fleas and ticks is no longer a seasonal battle. It requires a year round effort, as this article by Companion Animal Parasite Council stresses.

For more information

Here are links to two University of Kentucky articles that discuss various flea and tick control products:

Article 1

Article 2

Steve Penhollow is the Arts and Entertainment Reporter for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in Indiana. He has written for a number of publications, including the Advocate chain of newspapers in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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