The warmer months are here, and so are fleas and ticks. These resilient vermin work their way into our lives every year and can spoil a day out with a single bite. Luckily, you don’t have to move house or avoid the outdoors to escape these pests. Before setting out on hikes, trips and outdoor adventures with your dog, spray up and follow our guide to surviving flea and tick season.
Pet parents should regularly apply a flea and tick preventative product to their dog. The different application methods include drops, chewable pills, collars, sprays and shampoos. Some contain strong chemicals while others use natural ingredients. With all the choices available, how do you know which one will best suit your dog’s needs? Here’s a rundown of my favorite least harmful options:
Sprays and Shampoos
Most flea and tick shampoos and sprays must be used along with another preventative product. Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Advanced Strength Dog Shampoo not only kills fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, and ticks on contact, but also leaves your pooch smelling delightful from all the natural ingredients and essential oils. Sprays work in a similar fashion, and many of them can be applied to your home as well as your pet. Wondercide Flea and Tick and Mosquito Control Spray can be sprayed anywhere, smells good and is designed to give your pet’s coat a nice shine, too. Sometimes, we realize our dogs are covered in fleas a little too late to save our beloved rugs, carpet and couch. Vet's Best Flea and Tick Home Spray can be used around your house regularly or just as a one-off after an infestation to kill fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, ticks and mosquitoes without any hazardous or harmful chemicals all over your household items. Outdoors folk who are heading to a high-risk area should also apply bug spray. Repelsafe is an all-natural option that can be used on both humans and dogs. It’ll even kill ticks on contact and help keep mosquitoes away.
How Flea and Tick Season Affects You
By now, Fido should be equipped and ready for outdoor survival during flea and tick season, but what about the person on the other end of the leash? There are a few rules you can follow to limit your exposure to the harmful little critters. Hikers are advised to wear lightly colored clothing, which should easily show the darker colored ticks coming along for the ride. You should also cover any bare skin (a magnet for ticks), and that means tucking socks into trousers and shirts into pants. Nobody said staying safe was going to look good!
Try and stick to the main sections of trails. Stray into long grass and overgrown areas, and you’re venturing into flea and tick territory. Finally, make sure you inspect yourself and your dog post-hike. Ticks will burrow into any crevice they can find, so make sure you are thorough. Another pro tip is to try to limit your dog’s interaction with other furry flea and tick magnets. Deer, raccoons, opossums and feral cats are all known to carry an abundance of these pests on their coats. If you know they’re likely to be in the area, it’s probably best to leash up your dog.
Flea and Tick Removal
Please keep in mind you don’t want to remove the head of a tick to get rid of it. Their heads can detach from their bodies, remain on the skin and keep infecting the person or dog. The heads of a tick can continue to infect a person or animal. Instead, grab a pair of blunt-end tweezers or better yet, a tick removal tool (like a tick key); make a part in your dog’s fur to get a good view of the pest; then pull it out by the body to leave the whole thing intact. Once removed, rub your hands and the area where the tick was attached with rubbing alcohol to kill harmful bacteria.
Don’t use your hands to attempt to squish the tick as this is first instinct, as they will just wriggle out of it and may embed themselves in your skin. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests putting the removed tick in alcohol, a sealed container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet to be sure it can do no more harm. Regularly checking your furry friend for fleas and ticks is an important best practice. Every time your dog goes outside, inspect her thoroughly on return (especially in areas with less hair, like the ears and under the legs) also check the gums and roof of the mouth. During peak season, it’s recommended that you do this every day after each outing.
Also keep an eye on the places where a tick has been embedded on you or your dog. One of the first signs of Lyme disease is a spiral-shaped bruise that appears around the area. Take your dog to your vet if you are at all concerned that she may have contracted an infection (or get yourself to the hospital). In most cases, when infections are caught early, they are treatable with antibiotics.
Removing fleas is a totally different process. Any kind of lather kills fleas, so most dog shampoos will get rid of them in the bath. As we mentioned before, there are a number of flea and tick shampoos that are specifically designed to target fleas, including TropiClean Natural Shampoo, which is made using essential oils. Dawn dish soap just a drop is a great way to kill fleas as well. Apple cider vinegar helps to balance your dog’s PH after a wash, which is useful because fleas hate dogs with a balanced PH. The final step is to use a flea comb, like this one from Safari. Go over your dog’s fur after bath to catch any clingers and to remove dead fleas. The comb should be used once a week during peak flea season.
Wags & Woofs this Spring Season...