While it’s important to keep your pets safe from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes year-round, these pests thrive as the weather gets warmer. It’s a good time to make sure your pets are protected.
Remember: many flea and tick products made for dogs are NOT safe for cats. Essential oils can be dangerous to animals if used improperly. Always do your research and talk to your vet before trying something new!
De-Bug Your Environment
Prevent an infestation by keeping your home and yard clean. Vacuum carpets regularly, and seal up any cracks that bugs could crawl through. Make sure window screens are free of holes.
In your yard, garages, sheds and woodpiles give pests a place to hide. Dark, secluded places also invite mice and other wildlife to take up residence, and they may carry pests with them.
Ponds and puddles of water attract mosquitoes. You may need to drain flooded areas after summer rains. Goldfish and koi eat mosquito larvae in backyard ponds.
Poisons and chemical repellents could be deadly to your pets. A dusting of diatomaceous earth around doorways, cracks and crevices is deadly to pests, but safe for domestic animals.
Why Fleas Really Bite
Fleas are stubborn. Once you see just one flea crawling though your pet’s fur, you can be sure that there are hundreds more that you can’t see.
In most cases, flea bites are just a mild annoyance, and will subside once you get rid of them. However, a severe case could cause major blood loss, resulting in anemia for your cat or dog. If your pet eats a flea, they could get tapeworms.
It’s difficult, but not impossible, to eliminate fleas from your pet’s body and their environment. Flea eggs and larvae get embedded in your pet’s bedding and everywhere they lay around, and can lay dormant for months, so you may have recurrences if you’re not thorough the first time.
What You Should Know About Ticks
Ticks are plentiful in heavily wooded areas and tall grasses. Your pet could carry ticks into your home, where they could reproduce.
Always check your pet for ticks if they have been outside. They tend to hide around an animal’s face, neck and ears, toes and base of the tail. If you catch it quickly, the tick will be small and brown. Once the tick is fat with your pet’s blood, it will be big, round and light brown or greenish in color. Be very careful about removing ticks to avoid leaving the mouth parts embedded in your pet’s skin.
Ticks are dangerous because they transmit Lyme disease and other illnesses. If your pet has been bitten by a tick, especially if you’re unsure you can safely remove it, take your pet to the vet. They may need blood-work to make sure they have not been exposed to Lyme disease.
The Buzz About Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are typically just an annoyance, but they can carry heartworm disease, which is deadly to dogs and cats.
They thrive in moist areas, and will be especially abundant after a rainfall. The good news is, most treatments that prevent ticks and fleas will also keep mosquitoes off your pet.
Should You Use Traditional or Holistic Products?
Oral and topical preventatives made for pets are usually safe when used as directed. There have been some cases of animals suffering from seizures, vomiting and even death from spot-on treatments like Frontline, driving some pet owners to try holistic methods.
Pests may be becoming resistant to some traditional products, which is another reason pet owners are going natural.
If you go the holistic route, make sure you know exactly what you’re doing. Even holistic ingredients can be harmful if you use the wrong dosage, dilution, or mixture. A pre-blended product that contains lavender, lemongrass, and/or peppermint and is designed for pets should be both safe and effective.
Whether you use traditional or natural methods to prevent pests is a personal choice.
Traditional products only need to be applied monthly, or as stated on the box. Natural and holistic remedies typically need to be applied daily. You could even use both, applying a natural spray whenever you take your pet on a walk or hike.