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Do's and Don'ts of Ridding Your House and Pets of Fleas and Ticks


Safe and effective flea and tick products range from once a day pills, collars with 6 to 9-month efficacy, oral medications given monthly to every 12 weeks and topicals applied monthly. Always consult with your veterinarian regarding what is best for your environment and pet.


Modern anti-parasite products are very safe for mammals such as humans and dogs. They are very harmful to insects.  And since they do not work from a distance, fleas and ticks must come in contact with the chemicals for the killing power to do its job. 


Always talk to your veterinarian about safe and effective flea and tick products for your specific pet. Always talk to your veterinarian about their medical recommendation on safe and effective flea and tick products for your specific pet. Some products work better than others and have the possibility of causing less side effects in your particular pet. Keep in mind that satisfactory pest control requires three major steps:

  1.  Eliminating the source of the fleas and ticks in the home, kennel  or yard
  2.  Killing the fleas and ticks on the pet
  3.  Consistently using effective products over a long period of time 


Read all the product directions and descriptions.  Do treat the home environment with an effective flea eradication product and treat all areas of the home because fleas and their eggs can be moved about on shoes, pant legs, and can be present in the fabric of beds, chairs and couches. Depending on the species of tick found in your home or on your pet, a home tick eradication product may be needed.


Use an IGR… Insect Growth Regulator or a product proven to kill fleas before they can lay eggs according to label instructions otherwise you will never eliminate these pests from your home. If you are not able or willing to treat the entire house you may need need a professional exterminator.  And do obtain an understandable warranty regarding any residual fleas or ticks seen after the exterminators leave. 


Attached ticks should be gently removed by using one of several tick-remover devices that capture the head of the tick at skin level and is slowly elevated away from the skin. Try not to squeeze the tick. You can use a small tweezer to grasp the head as close to the skin as possible and gently extract the insect.  Sometimes, there may be a tiny black mouth part remaining which is very difficult to remove. Notify your veterinarian especially if the site becomes red, irritated, swollen or has a discharge.


Do call an exterminator if you are unsuccessful in keeping your home or yard free of fleas and ticks. In-home flea lift stage eradication efforts should include vacuuming carpets often and emptying the bag or contents after each cleaning, launder pet rugs, sweaters or other fabrics with hot water or better yet use a dry cleaning service, and do use daily flea and tick checks on you and your pet. Controlling ticks in your yard can be a difficult challenge. Working with your veterinarian and an exterminator can greatly enhance your success.


Don’t assume that just because you use an effective anti-flea or tick product on your pet that the pest problem “should be solved”.  Flea and tick eradication is a multifaceted endeavor and you must not cut corners or skimp on your pest elimination project otherwise you will not be happy with the end results.    Think of it as all-out war on several fronts.  Especially if you are unable to discover the source of any new fleas or ticks you discover on the dog.  If you don’t treat the home environment you will not be happy with your pest control situation.


Do not administer any parasite product for a pet whose body weight does not match the weight parameters listed on the label. Every high quality product will have safe use directions that you must understand.  And don’t hesitate to call the toll free phone number of the manufacturer.  Ethical product manufacturers have customer service representatives who will answer any unique questions you have about their products.  And do not use a combination of flea and tick preventatives unless advised by your vet. If a product is used correctly and you add a second “just to be sure” product, it could be harmful to your pet.  Do not double wrap a flea collar: trim away any excess length of collar material and dispose properly.


Do this to determine from where your dog keeps acquiring fleas: First thing in the morning, when your dog has been indoors for approximately 12 hours, thoroughly look him over. Fleas avoid bright light so look under the hair of the rump and base of the tail and inside the back legs for fleas and “flea dirt.”


When you are sure there are no fleas or ticks present, take your dog outside for his usual outdoor activities.  Check him over every 20 minutes or just before you bring him indoors again.  If you see fleas or ticks you now know the location of the source and can avoid that area or use appropriate outdoor pest control measures.  Ask a professional exterminator about outdoor eradication measures.


Check your dog thoroughly the very last thing at night and again when you arise in the morning.  If fleas are present in the morning more are hiding wherever the dog spent the night!


Don’t assume that because your dog is itching frantically there must be fleas present.  (Ticks do not provoke an itch-scratch behavior in dogs or cats.) Flea bites and saliva can trigger a full body itch-scratch reaction and some dogs suffer greatly from flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) wherein they may also need anti-itch medication from your veterinarian. However, if no fleas or “flea dirt” (the pepper-like dark specks of flea feces) are noted and your pet has been flea-free for a while the itching may be due to a common allergic dermatitis.   Pollens, house dust, dust mites, smoke, humidity and yeast dermatitis are common triggers for stimulating an itch-scratch situation.


Don’t waste your time or money on flea and tick control fables… those anecdotal remedies for all things hazardous to pets. You will not be happy with the results. Ordinary shampoos are ineffective in eliminating fleas and ticks.

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