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Flea and Tick Prevention and Treatment Options

Pet Supplies and Products for Getting Rid of Fleas and Ticks

By James Donatelli. January 26, 2011 | See Comments

Flea and Tick Prevention and Treatment Options

It's easy to keep your pet and your home safe from pesky fleas, ticks and mosquitoes with a little information, and we've got a lot.

With all the flea and tick prevention and treatment options out there, it can be difficult to know what you need.

Keeping your pets, family and home safe from fleas and ticks is best achieved through preventative measures and consistency. Be proactive with the tips below and consult your veterinarian about the best methods of treatment for your pet when in doubt.

Prevention is the best method of controlling fleas and ticks, but if your pets get either fleas or ticks, consider both your home and pets infested and work swiftly to avoid a larger problem. If any of your pets have had fleas or ticks, there can be more of them in your home.  

With all of the flea and tick products out there, it could be difficult to decide on a proper course of action. We hope this guide will help keep you and your pets in great health, the best way--flea and tick free.

Flea and Tick Control Types

Spot-on treatments, sprays (like Frontline Spray), and oral medications are the most common and effective means of flea and tick prevention and treatment. Some prevent, others treat, some do both, read on to learn more about your options. Keep in mind that most of these products are not recommended for dogs and cats under 6 weeks of age.

Spot-On Treatments

Spot-on treatments like Frontline Plus and K9 Advantix are the most popular for good reason--they work. They are sold in monthly doses and you apply the liquid in each dose to the skin on your pet's back once a month. They're relatively inexpensive, generally have no side effects, apply easily, prevent fleas and ticks from hosting on your pet, and kill them when they try. There are some differences among popular spot-on treatments to consider before choosing the best option for you and your pet.

Sprays

Sprays are another useful product for flea and tick prevention and treatment. Sprays kill fleas and ticks on contact. While alcohol-based sprays are usually highly effective, they can have unwanted side effects in certain pets (and even people who apply them). Certain sprays can be used alongside topical medications, or applied between dipping, while others function over an extended period of time, working to keep eggs from hatching. Always read the package information for instructions on use and any possible interactions with other flea and tick products and medications.

Oral Flea and Tick Control

Oral medications are useful in that they provide protection for your dog’s entire body, whereas sprays and rinses might leave some areas of your dog vulnerable to fleas and ticks. There are some oral medications that serve to protect your dog solely from ticks, and others that will protect your dog only from fleas. As with all medications, be sure to read the directions carefully, as dosages differ from one medication to the next.

How to Check Your Pet for Fleas and Ticks

Thoroughly check your pets for fleas and ticks on a daily basis, particularly in warmer months, which you can do while grooming or playing with them. Fleas and ticks can be anywhere on your pet's body, but prefer attaching themselves near the head, neck, ears, and paws. You may feel a tick bump, before you actually see a tick.

Evidence of fleas can be found in the flea dirt they leave behind in your pets’ coats and skin. Flea dirt is black specks that resemble pepper or bits of dirt, which are actually flea fecal matter. You can detect flea dirt by holding a white paper towel beneath your pet and running a metal comb through their coat (touching their skin). If either the comb or the paper towel produces black specks, there’s a good chance they have fleas. If you come across live fleas while following this method, drown them in soapy water, as they could potentially jump onto you or your pet. Then move on to treating your flea problem.  

Controlling Fleas and Ticks in Your Home

Whether you’re using sprays, spot-on treatments, topical treatments, or oral medications, you should keep in mind that if your pets do get fleas and/or ticks, the adults are only a small percentage of the total infestation. The majority of fleas and ticks in a given infestation are the eggs, larvae, and pupa, which are probably throughout your home, primarily in your pets’ living areas. If fleas and ticks are in your home, they‘re likely to be found in the cracks or crevices of walls, upholstered furniture, in bedding, and even beneath carpeting.

But don't panic!

First treat your pet. Capstar is a highly effective pill that works for 24 hours and kills most fleas within 4 hours. It can be taken daily for up to two weeks and works for dogs and cats.

Controlling fleas and ticks in your home is best achieved through a process of thorough vacuuming, and using an approved insecticide and insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs work to keep the egg and larvae of fleas from developing, stopping the next cycle of fleas from maturing. Some approved sprays containing IGRs (such as Adams Plus) are particularly effective, as they can be applied to a variety of surfaces. When fleas and ticks get beneath carpeting, vacuuming won’t be enough. Foggers, such as Adams Plus Fogger can kill fleas and ticks beneath carpets. Take any throw rugs, bedding, and fabrics that can be removed from upholstery and wash them in water as hot as the fabric allows.

Controlling Fleas and Ticks in Your Outside Environment

It isn’t difficult to ensure a tick-free environment outside your home, but it takes some consistency. If possible, install barriers that enclose your property, preventing animals from passing through your yard. Regularly mow your lawn, take care to keep your bushes trimmed and remove any mulch or leaf litter. This creates a less hospitable environment to fleas and ticks. Keep garbage containers tightly closed. Making waste inaccessible reduces stray animals and/or rodents (common flea and tick hosts) from passing through your property. If you bring your pets outdoors, make sure that they are protected with some form of flea and tick treatment and avoid tall grasses or brush.

A Note on Flea and Tick Control in Cats

Treatments that are perfectly suitable for dogs can be toxic to cats. Cats are particularly sensitive to chemicals, so make sure to read all labels carefully and be absolutely certain that you are using a method of treatment designed for cats. Advantage II for Cats is made specifically for our feline friends.

Products Mentioned

Frontline Plus
K9 Advantix
Captstar
Adams Plus Carpet Spray
Adams Plus Fogger
Advantage II for Cats

More on Fleas and Ticks

How to Detect Fleas and Ticks
K9 Advantix vs. Frontline Plus for Dogs
How to Use Frontline Plus for Dogs

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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