The new blooms and foliage that herald the beginning of spring also bring one of its worst offenders: fleas and ticks. A headache for pet owners every year, keeping these pests in check requires a three-pronged approach focusing on your pet(s), your house, and the natural space around your home. Use the strategies below to prevent misery for your pets and an infestation inside your home.
Protect Your Pets
Protecting your pet takes a little research, communication with your vet, and a disciplined care and grooming routine.
- Talk to your vet and go with the flea and tick control product they think is best for your pet. There are lots of options, including topical treatments, pills, shampoos, and collars. If you live someplace with lots of sunny and/or humid days, also ask about sun + bug repellant products.
- For dog or cat? Double-check with your vet – or if buying off the shelf, read the label – to make sure the product is meant for the pet you’re buying it for. Some products are made only for canines or felines and others can be used on either (but require different dosages).
- Do a daily flea/tick check, especially during the height of the season or if your pet’s been in or around grasses, shrubs, and bushes.
- Groom them regularly and use a flea comb. Check for flea feces and dried blood, which tells you there’s a problem.
- If you have more than one dog, treat them all at the same time so they’re on the same schedule – and your life’s made a little easier!
Protect Your Home
To avoid the nightmare scenario of flea shampooing your carpets or fumigating your home, prevent the bugs from getting comfy in your house (or getting in in the first place).
- Regularly wash all animal beds and soft toys on hot water and heat dry.
- Vacuum at least weekly to get rid of or prevent eggs, larvae, and adults. Be sure to hit sofas and carpets as well as crevices at the walls and baseboards. If you’re seeing an uptick (pun intended!) in pest sightings, vacuum daily instead of weekly – then empty the vacuum outside.
- Keep pets indoors more often, especially when ticks and fleas are really bad. Going in and out multiple times a day increases the chances they’ll bring bugs home. Walking on a leash and away from grasses is fine to get them exercise without exposing them too much.
- Trim trees and high shrubs that might provide a pathway for rodents and other critters to crawl into your attic. Wherever there are critters, there are fleas and ticks. Spring trimming keeps this to a minimum.
- Seal off any openings to the garage, basement, attic, sheds, or under decks where pests might nest and attract bugs.
Protect Your Yard
A few smart actions in your front and back yards can significantly limit the bugs that get on your pets or make it into your home.
- Keep your lawn mowed and grass/weeds as short as possible.
- Rake up and compost leaves near your home so as to reduce leaf litter that bugs breed in. If you have acreage, try to leave the litter beyond a safe perimeter so that migrating or local birds have access to food (i.e. – the bugs that make home in the leaf litter).
- Maintain a perimeter of gravel or woodchips 3 feet from the house.
- Stack firewood in a dry area so that rodents – and hitchhiking fleas and ticks – are kept in check.
- Remove any old furniture, debris, or other trash that provides nesting spots for bugs.
- Try tick control tubes. These hold permethrin-treated cotton, and the idea is that mice steal the cotton to make nests – which then kill the fleas.
- Consider a spray as last resort for your yard. However, do your research as many sprays will kill pollinators and all add chemicals to your yard. Go for something natural if possible and use it in conjunction with prevention measures.
The three-pronged approach above should keep your pets pest-free and your home healthy and safe. A little extra attention to prevention measures goes a long way toward a relaxing, beautiful springtime.
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