Your furry family members like spending as much time outside as you do. Unfortunately, some bugs, like ticks and fleas, take advantage of this. They hop onto your pet in order to use them as a host. This can cause problems for your pets. Check out what you can do to keep your pets safe from ticks and fleas.
Ticks are arachnids that feed on the blood of their hosts. While some ticks target humans, some species prefer animals as their host. Even though dogs are more frequently targeted because they spend more time outside, cats can become a host for ticks.
What Do Ticks Look Like?
These pests have flat, oval bodies. American dog ticks are brown with gray markings and grow to about 3/16". Brown dog ticks are about 1/8" in length and have a reddish-brown body. Blacklegged ticks are brown or reddish-brown and 1/8" in length. Lone star ticks are reddish-brown, and females have a white dot on their back. These ticks are about 1/8" in length. Though small, when a tick feeds, its body will swell.
Where Do Ticks Live?
Ticks prefer areas that are wooded or contain vegetation. They begin to emerge when temperatures rise. While they enjoy the warmth, they look for shady spaces with moisture.
Fleas are one of the most common pests that give your pets a fit. They require a host to obtain their blood meal. Fleas will use a variety of creatures as a host, but they tend to target dogs and cats. These pests multiply quickly.
What Do Fleas Look Like?
Fleas have a flat body that can range in color from reddish-brown to black. They are usually 1/12"-1/6" in length. They have powerful legs that they use to hop onto a host. Cat fleas are the species that most commonly ends up in homes. They are brownish-black or black and about 1/8" long. Though cat fleas are more common, dog fleas have no problem invading your house. They’re similar in appearance to cat fleas with a brownish-black or black body.
Where Do Fleas Live?
Fleas prefer to remain on their host, but they can fall off and hide in homes. They can be found in carpets, bedding, pet bedding, and on furniture and clothing. Outdoors, you can find these pests in tall grass, overgrown vegetation, and yard debris.
Check for Ticks and Fleas
One of the best things you can do to help protect your pets is to regularly check for ticks and fleas. Any time your pet spends time outside, take the time to look them over. Ticks have a few favorite hiding spots on pets. Examine in and around their ears, around eyelids, under their collar, on their tail, and on their legs. Fleas can be a little tricky to spot, especially if your pet has dark fur. Excessive scratching or licking can be a good indicator of fleas. You may also notice flea dirt, which will look like dark specks that resemble pepper. Fleas are often found on your pet’s back, neck, and underside.
How to Remove Ticks from Your Pets
- Use tweezers to gently pull the tick off
- Once the tick is removed, flush it down the toilet
- Wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water
How to Remove Fleas from Your Pets
- Using a flea comb, check your pet’s fur and remove fleas
- Place fleas into a dish with hot, soapy water
- The soap will make it so the fleas can’t jump out, which will kill them
Take Care of Your Yard
Taking care of your yard can help keep your pets safe. Ticks like areas with tall grass, vegetation, wood, and leaf litter. The taller the grass, the easier it is for them to crawl onto your pets. Wildlife carrying fleas are also attracted to areas with vegetation. Fleas and ticks like areas with moisture.
- Mow your lawn frequently
- Trim plants, shrubs, and tree branches
- Remove weeds and other yard debris
- Store firewood off of the ground and away from your house
- Create barriers around trees or the perimeter of your yard to reduce the migration efforts of ticks
- Remove any trash that could attract carriers of fleas
- Keep trash can tightly sealed
- Reduce spots where moisture build-up occurs
Give Your Pets Regular Baths
Good hygiene is important for your pet’s health. Giving your pets baths will make it more difficult for pests to hide in their fur. Baths can help rid your pet of fleas and other bugs before it becomes a serious problem. Any time your pet spends a lot of time outside or interacts with other animals, you should give them a bath.
- Keep the water at a lukewarm temperature
- Use mild soap
- Spend a few minutes scrubbing your pet
- Start at their head and work your way down
- If using a shampoo formulated to treat and prevent ticks, pay close attention to the instructions on the label or contact your veterinarian before using
- Bathing your pet will help with a pest problem, but it won’t completely eliminate an infestation
Keep Your Home Clean
Your pets will benefit from a clean house. Regularly cleaning your home is a great way to prevent tick and flea problems.
- Vacuum your floors, rugs, and baseboards
- Vacuum upholstered furniture and under furniture
- Vacuum areas where there is less activity, since pests hide in these areas
- Wash your pet’s bedding
- Wash your bedding, especially if your furry friends like to cuddle with you
- Wash plush dog toys
- Regularly clean pet toys with hot water and soap
Work with Your Veterinarian
Your pets may pout with this one, but they will thank you later. Keeping up with their veterinarian appointments is important for reducing tick and flea encounters. Their veterinarian can help you choose the best medications and tick collars to prevent these pests. If your pet is dealing with a flea problem, their veterinarian can provide treatment options. They can also help with a tick bite. While not all tick bites will cause severe reactions, this can sometimes happen. If your pet has a loss of appetite, fatigue, or muscle weakness, a tick could be responsible. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure your pets are healthy.
Use Pet-Friendly Pest Control Products
Treating your home and yard can help keep your pets bug-free. Pets are part of the family, and it’s important to use a product that won’t hurt them. Our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products are formulated with plant essential oils. They are an effective and more environmentally and family-friendly solution. When used as directed, they are safe to use around your furry family members. Our Mosquito & Tick Killer spray can be applied to your lawn and vegetation. It kills ticks on contact and repels them, helping to prevent future tick problems. If fleas are bugging your pets, our Bed Bug & Flea Killer aerosol can help. While this product is great for treating areas where pets hang out, it shouldn’t be applied directly to your pet.
Pets are a huge part of your family. We know that keeping them safe from ticks and fleas is a top priority. If bugs are giving you or your pets a fit, we’re here to help. Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Pest Control products.