When it’s not flea and tick season, it’s easy to forget how miserable these nasty little insects can be. An infestation can take weeks to completely get rid of. But it goes beyond being just a nuisance. Protecting your pet from fleas and ticks can be the is extremely important to the health and well-being of your pets and family.
Dangers of Flea and Tick Infestation
Fleas and ticks are small critters with a big impact because they have the advantage of numbers – big numbers. Ticks can carry illnesses like Lyme disease, which can affect both humans and animals. Fleas can transmit tapeworms through their bites. And of course, we can’t forget that fleas can infest our homes! If your pets shed, flea eggs can come off on the hair.
Clumps of shed animal hair can then become breeding grounds for fleas. And they are extremely difficult to get rid of – you may need multiple, professional, and often expensive applications of powerful pesticide to get the infestation under control if natural methods fail.
Prevention is the best approach to protecting your pets from fleas and ticks. Here are some of the options.
Natural – There are a variety of natural flea and tick sprays and treatments available now for those who do not want to use chemicals on their pets. Investigate essential oils. Look for blends that contain lemongrass, cedarwood, citronella, rosemary tea tree or lavender. Dilute to avoid skin irritation. You can also dip a brush or comb in warm water with a few drops of oil added.
Traditional – Spot-on treatments go between the shoulders or on the back of the neck for cats, and on the back of the neck or down the back of dogs. These can get expensive if you get them from your vet and especially if you have multiple pets. However, there are affordable options. Spot-on, topical flea prevention can contain pesticides They usually both repel and kill fleas and ticks. They need to be applied on a monthly basis.
Flea collars can help repel fleas and ticks, but they also need to be kept fresh and replaced regularly.
Comb your pet every day with a flea and tick comb. This helps prevent re-infestation between applications of the flea medication.
Despite your best efforts it still happens – life gets busy or someone forgot to treat your pet. Now your dog or cat has become infested with fleas, or a tick attaches itself to them. How can you get rid of them?
- Oral flea killers encourage the fleas to bite your pet, and then the fleas die almost immediately. Obviously, this does not prevent fleas from re-infesting your pet a couple of days later, so if you use this option, follow up with a prevention like a topical spot-on.
- Remove the tick from your pet using tweezers and topical anesthetic. Keep the removed tick in a zip-top bag and freeze it. This will kill the tick but preserve it in case you need to identify it later. (If illness develops, it’s important to be able to identify the tick.)
- Flea powders and sprays are also effective at killing off an infestation. But once again, a preventative measure needs to be taken as well to prevent re-infestation.
- Flea traps are a natural way to catch fleas.
- Get an essential oil diffuser and diffuse a flea-repelling blend
- Boric acid or diatomaceous earth – both methods involve sprinkling the product around the house and letting them sit for 12-48 hours before vacuuming.
You may find that it’s best to rotate between natural and traditional treatments to help reduce your pet’s toxic load. However you decide to address flea and tick control, it’s important to have a plan of action before flea and tick season starts. If your house gets infested, it can be a long ordeal before you completely get rid of them.