It’s that time of year friends! Actually, it’s a little past that time of year. As the weather is warming up (and as back and forth as it’s been for us, it really is warming up), thoughts are turning to the outdoors. I know for me, I’m spending as much time as possible in my garden. Lots of you are hopefully doing the same. I’m sure we are all anticipating that first perfect Saturday or Sunday when we can get out on our patios or decks and enjoy a nice lunch/dinner and maybe even a cocktail and soak it all in!
Hopefully, you are also anticipating that first hike or walk with your furkid(s). Images of our furry friends runningoff some of that winter energy (aka cabin fever), filling our heads. If you are thinking about that, then hopefully, you are also thinking about the dark side of all that outdoor activity….fleas and ticks! Yuck! But yes we need to think about it and we need to act on it!
Why Does It Matter
A serious flea infestation can cause problems beyond the occasional scratch. Too many fleas and your pet can develop more serious issues like tapeworms or hot spots. And what about you? Fleas can be very hard to get rid of in your home, car, etc. Nightmares of cleaning frenzies and flea bombs probably come to mind. And we have all heard lots about the dangers of Lyme disease caused by ticks. This can affect not just your dog, but you as well. So the incentive is high to stop this before it starts!
What are your options?
Topicals From Your Vet
I know in our house, we’ve used topicals on our kids for years. There has been some chatter among my friends that products they have used for years may not be working as well. Formulas change & it’s possible that’s happened. We decided to be proactive and, after consulting with our veterinarian, switched to something new. Some vet prescribed products you may be familiar with include Frontline, Revolution, Trifexis, and many more*. Some of these products do more than combat fleas/ticks. Some can also take care of other monthly preventatives like heartworm, etc. I highly recommend that you have a conversation with your vet to see what works for you.
Over the Counters from Local/Online Retailers
You can take matters into your own hands and browse the selections at local pet stores, big box stores, or online retailers. Some of the products you find could be brand names you’ve heard of for years. Hartz and Advantage are 2 brands I can remember hearing about for most of my pre-adult life*. As always, whatever you choose, it’s best to consult your vet along the way.
I get asked about this quite a bit. I completely understand the desire to reduce the amount of chemicals that we and our pets ingest and I sympathize with this movement. Like any solution, though, you really want to do your homework here. To do this justice, I’m going to do a little more homework on this topic myself and devote an post just to it, so hang in there.
Yikes! I’ve Already Found Fleas/Ticks!
First, don’t panic! Keep Calm & Treat On! At the very least, give your dog a flea bath in a product that you and/or your vet approve. Some very important points:
- Do Not Get Flea Soap/Shampoo In Your Pet’s Eyes. If you are applying a flea bath, be sure to start at the neck (just below the ears) and work down towards their back end. You do not want to apply or let any shampoo get in their eyes. If that should happen, seek immediate attention with your vet.
- Let the shampoo/dip sit for at least 5 minutes. Use this as a time to bond with your pet & give them a relaxing bath massage. This can also teach them that bathing is a relaxing experience.
- Rinse well! Rinse well! Rinse well! Did I mention that you need to rinse well?
- Lastly, start an approved topical treatment immediately.
What About the Humans?
And finally, you can be impacted by fleas and ticks. As mentioned before, Lyme disease is a big deal, so you want to thoroughly check yourself and all family members for any fleas/ticks after outdoor outings or should you find fleas/ticks on your pet.
You may have to treat your living environment as well. This can mean your home, car, yard, etc. Flea bombs are a popular option, but you will want to check with your family doctor, and possibly your vet, about any adverse reactions that family members may have to the chemicals in these products.
The most important thing you can do is follow an oldie but a goodie: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you haven’t done so already, start treating your pet now so you both can start enjoying the great outdoors in comfort now.