Today we are talking about bloodsuckers. No, we aren’t talking about your ex — it’s not that bad, but these guys are pretty close. Fleas and ticks, otherwise known as the bane of your dog and cat’s existence, are the subject of the article you’re reading.
And we are gonna be doing some good old fashion bug squashing! We’ll go over what kills ticks on dogs, how to prevent flea infestations, etc. — we’re basically covering every way we can stop these delightful parasites from causing a ruckus.
Why Are Fleas and Ticks Such A Pain In The Butt
- They have their eyes set on your pet — fleas and ticks have two goals in life: eat and live long enough to reproduce. Both fleas and ticks can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs in their lifetime. Fleas will reproduce and lie around 20 eggs on your pet at a time.
Fortunately, ticks don’t lay eggs on dogs, cats, or humans — they need to eat first then detach. The unfortunate issue is they lay eggs in your house, and even worse, an adult female tick can give birth to several thousands of eggs at a time. NOOOO!
- Powerhouse Defenses — Both fleas and ticks are tiny, fantastic at hiding, and have super durable hardshell bodies. Fleas have the advantage of powerful back legs that can propel them 4-5 feet into the air.
Ticks have a nearly indestructible body and love finding a place to hide where they don’t have to move — this makes spotting them difficult. As well, removing a tick from a dog is tricky as their body often detaches from their head and stays behind. The tick is 100% dead and cannot continue sucking, but leaving the head attached opens the wound to microbial infections.
Diseases — Fleas and tick can both carry numerous diseases. Fleas can cause your dog to have an allergic reaction, as well as, they have the ability to carry Typhus, Lyme disease, Bubonic Plague, and tapeworms.
Ticks can cause an allergic reaction as well, and can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, and Ehrlichiosis.
Tips For Killing And Preventing Fleas And Ticks
You want to make sure you are bathing your dog every 1-2 times a month in the summer — more if they are outside a lot. Make sure to monitor their skin, so it doesn’t dry out from the baths.
Pet shampoo and even dish soap work wonders for keeping fleas at bay, but if you’re looking for a more effective method, check out flea and tick shampoo — *tips on how to choose the best down below*.
Most cats are obviously not going to be down with a nice relaxing bath, and this is OK since they bathe themselves. Brushing them will go a long way — a flea comb for cats is a great idea. In the worst-case scenario, a quick rinse in the sink is usually all that is ever needed.
Cleaning Your House
Break out the vacuum cleaner because you’re going to want it the second you see a flea in the house. When it comes to ticks, you only need to vacuum if you find them in the house unattached to you or your pet. If that happens VACUUM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD — above we learned how ticks need to eat before they lay thousands of eggs at a single time.
While vacuuming will help pick up fleas, ticks, and their eggs, it’s recommended to still wash your sheets and spray a flea & tick cleaner around the house. There are numerous all-natural flea and tick sprays for pets.
Cleaning Your Yard
Fleas, and especially ticks, love tall grass as it gives them easy access to our pets, so your first job is to keep the grass cut and maintained. If you end up in a woody’s area and other places with lots of vegetation, consider giving your dog a thin t-shirt to wear. Make sure to check the bottom of your dog’s paws as ticks love hiding up in-between their little toe-beans.
Another way you can get rid of fleas in your yard is by adding their natural predators like nematodes — smalls worms that eat larvae — and ladybugs. Both are super easy to find in a pet store, and won’t hurt you, your yard, or your pet in any way.
How to Spot Bad Natural Insect Control Treatments
When people seek an all-natural treatment option, they often do so because they have concerns about the safety of conventional treatments. This makes it even more unfortunate that there are companies that are promoting products, that while natural, are unsafe for your pets.
Just because it occurs in nature doesn’t make it safe by any means — just look at arsenic, nightshade, poison ivy, etc. As well, what’s safe for you isn’t necessarily safe for your pet, such as is the case with lavender or eucalyptus.
Lavender, eucalyptus, geranium, pennyroyal oil are common ingredients that end up in all-natural insect control treatments. As well, you’ll want to avoid all organophosphates — some include propoxur, amitraz, and permethrin.
Next, you’ll want to avoid flea and tick collars as comprehensive research show that many of them contain dangerous chemicals that can not only harm your pet but you as well. It’s so easy for your dog to wipe the collar all over the furniture, carpet, etc. exposing the whole family. What’s worse is even after removing the collar, the chemicals can be found on the pet fur and skin for weeks after.
How To Choose The Best Flea And Tick Control
Now that you know what flea and tick treatments and ingredients you should avoid, all you need to do is follow a few basic steps and finding/picking a treatment couldn’t be simpler.
Read the label — Because fleas and ticks are so difficult to kill and have different defenses at different life stages, there are lots of flea and tick options. Some are only dedicated to killing larvae or the eggs while others are suited to better killing the adults.
Where do you live — There are countless varieties of both fleas and ticks species, and some have their own unique defenses that require different medication for preventing and killing them. So make sure to Google which flea and tick species lives in your area — you can also give your veterinarian a call.
Cat or dog — Sometimes flea and tick products overlap and can be used for both cats and dogs but not always. Some formulas are specifically designed for dogs and vice-versa. As well, cats are sensitive to way more things than dogs because they lack enzymes in their liver that metabolizes certain “toxins’. For example, most essentials cannot be given to a cat, but are fine — if not beneficial — for dogs.
- Common herbs, plants, ingredients found in natural flea & tick solutions that are safe for both cats and dogs: lemongrass, sodium lauryl sulfate, aloe vera, and cinnamon. Citronella and peppermint are only safe for dogs.