How to Protect Your Pets from Fleas and Ticks

Owning a pet can be an amazing experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. For pets in Southern California, the arrival of cooler months often means the start to flea and tick season. While generally non-fatal, these insect invaders can be very problematic – and very unpleasant for your pets. Instead of letting Fluffy or Fido suffer this season, take steps now to prevent your pets from facing fleas and ticks.

Treat for Ticks and Fleas Year-Round

Flea and tick prevention isn’t solely a seasonal task. The best way to keep fleas and ticks at bay is to approach treatment all year – not just when the weather changes. Even though some seasons are riskier than others, there are always risks, so ignoring problems the spring can mean issues that last into the fall.

For best results, get into a pest prevention routine and stick to it all year. This can mean grooming appointments as well as applying treatment products, but no matter how you choose to handle proactive prevention, make it a habit.

Employ the Right Products

Not all tick and flea prevention products are made equal. Some are far better than others, so before going to the store and buying the cheapest option or the treatment that sounds the easiest, determine what is truly best for your pet.

Prevention products come in all shapes and sizes, from pills to gels to collars. However, some products are known for being ineffective or even dangerous. To choose a preventative product, head right to the source: your vet. Vets know what products are best, and can help you make an educated decision. Further, some vets can offer prescription products that work better than OTC options.

Make sure the products you choose are right for your pet, including breed, species, and weight. For example, a product designed for dogs could be dangerous for cats.

Do Regular Checks for Ticks

A standard flea infestation is usually more annoying than dangerous, but ticks can be a serious problem. They’re also harder to identify, as fleas move in packs while ticks tend to bite solo. If you’ve been outside with your pet in an area known for ticks, perform a tick check as soon as you get home. Look at skin over the entire body, including eyes and ears. Most ticks need to be found within the first 24 hours to avoid transmission of Lyme disease, so the sooner ticks can be found and removed, the better.

Not all ticks carry disease, but if you find a tick on your pet, notify your vet immediately. A vet can help you look for warning signs of a bigger problem, like lethargy and loss of appetite, and let you know how to best approach treatment.

Keep Outdoor Spaces Clean

An unkempt yard can be a big problem in tick season. Ticks like to hide in tall grass, so letting grass go uncut or wild shrubbery to take over can effectively invite ticks into your yard. Fleas, on the other hand, like to congregate in moist areas with heavy shade and organic debris, like grass clippings and compost.

To keep your property safe for your pets, take time to keep things tidy. Mow the grass regularly, and take care of clippings, dead plants, and loose leaves. You want your home to be a safe place for your pets, and keeping things clean is a great way to start.

Prioritize Grooming

Grooming is great for all kinds of reasons, but can be an important part of pest prevention. Short, clean, and well-groomed hair can make it easier to identify ticks and fleas, as well as to comb out bugs. Make appointments with your preferred groomer on a recommended timeline – this is usually specific to dogs, though some long-haired cats may also require professional grooming – and keep up with brushing and bathing as needed.

Grooming is also a good way to bond with your pet, so making it part of your pet care routine can be satisfying on many levels.

Stay Up to Date on Vet Visits

Few pets like seeing the vet, but regular vet visits for your pets are just as important as annual physicals for you. If anything is wrong, like Lyme disease or a serious flea infestation, a vet is best positioned to see the problem and prescribe an effective treatment. Further, if you cultivate a relationship between your vet and your pet, your vet will be able to notice physical and personality differences that may not be otherwise obvious.

Preventing problems related to ticks and fleas is part of being a good pet owner, so the more you can do, the better. Luckily, with a little effort to keep your home, your yard, and your pets clean and cared for, the less you have to worry about flea and tick problems.

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