4 things you can do to prevent fleas and ticks from bugging your pet


It’s not just dogs that need flea and tick prevention; cats do, too. — Photos: 123rf.com

Fleas and ticks are a nuisance, but they can also spread diseases, so you want to treat your pet quickly if you see fleas or ticks, but you also want to prevent your pet from an infestation or bite(s).

Here is some information about how keeping your pets (and you!) safe from these pests.

There are a lot of preventative products available and it’s always best to talk with your veterinarian before starting your pet on such medicines.

Your vet knows your pet’s health status and will be able to help you choose the product that is safest. Some puppies and kittens are too young to start preventatives. Older pets or those with medical conditions may not tolerate certain products and if they are receiving other medications, some flea and tick products can interact with those medications.

Some puppies (and kittens) are too young to start on flea preventative medication.Some puppies (and kittens) are too young to start on flea preventative medication.

Although fleas and ticks are more of a risk when the weather gets warmer, your vet may recommend (or you may choose to) that you treat your pet with preventative medicine year-round. Some pets who have had a disease or parasite (e.g. tapeworm) transmitted by a flea or tick may benefit from year-round treatment. And, it may set your mind at ease as well, knowing that you are protecting your pet every day!

Once you and your vet have decided what product to use, you want to use the product correctly and follow other simple tips to avoid flea and tick infestations – and catch them quickly if they do occur!

1. Read the label of the flea and tick preventative. Always read the label of any product or medicine you give your pet. Flea and tick products are formulated for cats or dogs and administered by weight, so be sure you are using the right product. Remember, cats are not small dogs so don’t give your cat a product meant for a dog even if they meet the weight requirements (and I’ve seen some cats that are as big as small dogs!).

2. Inspect your pet. If you’ve been outside with your pet, especially in the woods or grassy areas, check them for fleas or ticks once you return home. Some places that ticks like to hide on your pet are between the toes, on the lips, around the eyes, in the ears, and under the tail. Look for fleas in areas where your dog’s coat is thinner, such as on their belly or in the armpits.

3. Learn how to properly remove an attached tick. The sooner a tick is removed, the less likely that it can transmit an illness to your pet. If you are not sure how to do this, your veterinarian can teach you.

4. Watch for any adverse reactions. While flea and tick preventatives are generally safe, any pet can have a reaction to a particular product. Look for excessive scratching, skin redness and swelling, vomitting or abnormal behaviour. Topical products and collars may be more likely to cause a skin reaction, but oral products can cause reactions too. Again, read that label for what to look for with each product.

Now, I know all you cat people out there are saying: “This sound like advice for dog people. What about my cat?” Well, cats need flea and tick prevention, too! Even if your cat is an indoor cat, you may have other pets (or people!) that go outside, and they can bring these pests home.

Cats are more likely to have fleas, but tick bites are possible and can be more serious since they transmit diseases when they attach to an animal. All the same rules apply when choosing a preventative for your cat – talk with your veterinarian to choose the best product, read the label so you know how to use it, and look for any adverse reactions such as new itching and scratching, vomitting, and behaviour changes.

Unfortunately, you can do all these things and fleas can still get onto your pet and into your home! If you need to treat your pet for fleas, you will need to treat your home too. To get rid of fleas, wash any objects that you can, such as bedding or blankets where your pet has been. Vacuum carpets and furniture and empty the vacuum container afterwards. You can also use a “fogger” to treat a whole room in your house, but you won’t be able to use that room for 12 to 14 hours afterwards. Again, read the label for instructions. – Tribune News Service/Newport Daily News, R.I./Tuki

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