We all suffer through it: the keening buzz, the telltale sting, the insatiable itch that sends your fingernails—or hind leg—scrambling to provide sweet, skin-raking relief. Whether you are of the two-legged or four-legged variety, we all have to weather flea and tick season. Being human means you can take preventative measures like applying bug spray or choosing not to slather yourself with perfume and tromp through the woods in your shortest shorts smelling like the world’s sweetest blood-filled eclair. Dogs and cats, however, will need a bit of help if they hope to emerge from flea and tick season with their fur still intact.
1. The Perils of Having Blood: The adverse effects of blood-sucking pests affect canine, feline, and homo sapien alike. Fleas could leave your pets with patchy pelts or scabby skin, and if they accidentally ingest a flea infected with tapeworm, they might soon be facing a new infestation. Lyme’s Disease and West Nile Virus are diseases you and your pets could contract from just one bite from the wrong bug.
2. Nip It in the Blood: The EPA is a treasure trove of preventative measures that can be taken to protect yourself and your pet. Indoors, vacuum daily in suspect areas and wash pet furniture every two to three weeks. Outdoors, keep brush and grass maintained and preferably as far from your house as possible. Interestingly, a moat of wood chips and gravel between your yard and the wood line will deter any pests hoping to turn your home into an all-you-can-eat buffet.
3. Don’t Overdo It: All joking aside, serious health complications can occur in your pet if pesticides aren’t used correctly. Elderly, pregnant, allergic, or ill pets may be particularly sensitive to pesticides, so read those instructions carefully. Don’t use pesticides meant for adult pets on the young, and don’t use cat flea preventative on a dog and vise-versa. Finally, keep a close eye on your pet after the initial administration—if he or she appears to be having a reaction, apply a mild soap and liberal amounts of water to its fur right away. You’ll want to hang onto the package too in case these side effects do occur—further instruction on how to handle the reaction or contact the manufacturer might be included.
As the EPA points out in the start of the article, pesticides may not even be required with proper prevention tactics. Keep on top of the pest problem, and you’ll be sparing yourself a host of future problems this summer!