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​Fighting Fleas & Ticks

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Ticks are generally found in the leaf litter of hardwood forest and on shrubs and tall grass at the edges of forest. When the weather is warm and moderately damp, the ticks are out and about looking for their next meal. It can be hard to know what the best solutions are to keeping ticks off your dog. Often it’s best to take a multi-faceted approach. Some of the products mentioned are available only from your vet — while others can be purchased at your local independent pet store. Ask the associates about what might work for your individual situation.

Lots of Products — What to Choose?

Spot on medications — such as Frontline, Frontline Plus, the generics with Fipronil, Advantix, and more. Most are applied between the shoulder blades once a month and kill (Frontline) or repel (Advantix) fleas, ticks and other external parasites. Read and follow the label directions, especially regarding age of pet, bathing, etc.

Flea and Tick Collars — A variety of different collars are available, both chemical and herbal. Again, read and follow the label directions in terms of suitability and usage instructions.

Clothing and Bandanas — Your dog can wear a tee shirt, neck gaiter, or bandana that repels insects. Impregnated with a repellent that lasts over several washings, these items are effective against fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and flies.

Sprays — Both insecticidal sprays and herbal sprays are useful in preventing fleas and ticks. Some sprays kill fleas and ticks on contact; the herbal sprays act more as a repellent. Some sprays can be used alongside topical medications while others function over an extended period of time, working to keep eggs from hatching. Always read the package information for instructions on use and any possible interactions with other products and medications.

Oral medications — Generally available from your vet, oral medications provide protection for your dog’s entire body. There are some oral medications that serve to protect your dog solely from ticks, and others that will protect your dog only from fleas. As with all medications, be sure to read the directions carefully, as dosages differ from one medication to the next.

Shampoos and Dips — A sudsy bath with a flea and tick shampoo will also help to remove any insects on the dog and discourage any new ones from joining the party. Both herbal and chemical shampoos are available. A flea/tick dip is usually a groomer or vet service, and, as it sounds, is a saturated solution applied to your pet’s skin and coat to kill and remove external parasites.

Layered solutions — In areas where the tick population is particularly high, one preventative alone may not be enough. Consider using a chemical spot on treatment or an oral treatment, and then backing it up with an herbal spray or wipe before going out to hike, and even adding a repellent tee or bandana. You should check with your vet about possible interactions but the herbal sprays plus chemical oral medications or spot-ons are considered to be safe.

Check your pet daily for fleas and ticks

Thoroughly check your pets for fleas and ticks on a daily basis, particularly in warmer months, which you can do while grooming or playing with them. Fleas and ticks can be anywhere on your pet’s body, but prefer attaching themselves near the head, neck, ears, and paws. When returning from a hike in the woods or a walk in the park, use a lint roller to remove ticks before they become attached.

You’ll know fleas are about when you see the flea dirt left behind in your pets’ coats and skin. Flea dirt is black specks that resemble pepper or bits of dirt; it is actually flea fecal matter. You can detect flea dirt by holding a white paper towel beneath your pet and running a metal comb through their coat (touching their skin). If either the comb or the paper towel produces black specks, there’s a good chance they have fleas. If you come across live fleas while following this method, drown them in soapy water, as they could potentially jump onto you or your pet.

Note on Flea and Tick Control in Cats Treatments that are perfectly suitable for dogs may be toxic to cats. Cats are particularly sensitive to chemicals, so make sure to read all labels carefully and be absolutely certain that you are using a method of treatment designed for cats.

Originally published on NexPet's EZ Share Pet Info blog by Connie Packard Kamedulski.