If you have ever had to endure an attack of fleas or ticks on your pet, you will understand the frustration of trying multiple approaches to eliminate this nuisance from your home and yard. Having had to endure an outbreak of fleas on my dog last fall, I have come to understand the futility that comes with trying to control these nasty little insects.
It required three trips to the vet, numerous baths, extensive cleaning and vacuuming, an outdoor insect control application and “bombing” our house twice before the problem ended. It took over two months to clear up the problem.
“How did our dog get fleas?” was the question my wife asked me. It is a very good question, as we have lived in our home almost 30 years and had two other dogs during that time.
Neither of them have ever had a problem with fleas, so why did we have them last fall? Fleas are a part of nature; for better or worse. I suppose they do fill a need as food for some other insects, but they are part of the natural world.
The same is true with ticks, although ticks are considered the vector or source for many diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and Spotted fever. Fleas are associated with the spread of Murine Typhus in humans and three afflictions that infect dogs and cats like tapeworms and Cat Scratch disease.
What are some ways you can limit the chances that your pet will end up contracting one of these maladies from fleas and/or ticks?
Here are some things to consider with fleas and ticks on pets:
Is your dog or cat an “outside” or “inside” pet?
The more time your pet spends outside, the greater the chance that they may come in contact with fleas, especially if other wildlife frequent your yard. Squirrels, feral cats, raccoons, skunks and even other dogs can be the source of fleas. A flea can jump up to 7 inches vertically and up to 13 inches horizontally, making it a champion jumper among all known animals, relative to body size. In other words, the flea has the ability to jump from the lawn and land on to your pet. It all starts with just one flea to start the egg-laying process.
Does your dog go to a dog park or dog care center?
Again, if your dog spends a good deal of time with other dogs, there is a better chance that he/she may get fleas from a furry friend. Dog parks usually feature wide open spaces with taller grass and small shrubs, which are both good locations for ticks.
Are your lawn and gardens properly maintained?
Fleas and ticks prefer cool, shaded areas that are infrequently cared for through pruning and mowing. By staying current on mowing and pruning, you may be able to limit the ideal environment for fleas and ticks.
How often is your pet bathed?
If you are using a topical ointment to prevent fleas and ticks, make sure it is waterproof. The instructions that came with the product will let you know how long you should wait before bathing your dog after applying the medication.
Do you live in a wooded area or next to an area with tall grass?
These are both great locations for fleas and ticks. If possible, keep underbrush from encroaching on your property through trimming. Mow a strip or two of grass as a filter strip between your lawn and the tall grasses.
The other thing to do is to apply an insect control to your grass and shrubs to control any fleas or ticks that may be present. This should be applied about every three to four weeks, especially if you have had past experiences with fleas and ticks. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any insect control product.
Contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care Professional to schedule your flea and tick control applications this summer. I know that I will be having my lawn treated real soon.