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Best Ways to Get Rid of and Prevent Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are no one's favorite guests, but dealing with these pests is an inevitable part of pet ownership. Fortunately, there are easy ways to get rid of fleas and ticks and prevent them from coming back.

The Problems With Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are more than just an itchy irritation to cats, dogs and other pets. These are blood-sucking parasites that can cause inflammations, irritations and even open sores on pets with skin sensitivities or flea and tick allergies. Severe infestations of these pests can even lead to fur loss and patchy coats as well as anemia. Fleas and ticks can also transmit diseases not only to the pets they bite, but also to humans, livestock and other animals. The exact diseases transmitted can vary depending on the species of flea or tick, the animal bitten, geography, climate and other factors, but commonly transmitted diseases include Lyme disease, sleeping sickness, myxomatosis, tungiasis, typhus, bovine anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountin spotted fever, tapeworms and even different varieties of plague. Because of these risks, it is best to take every possible step to get rid of fleas and ticks and prevent them from recurring as much as possible.

Getting Rid of Fleas and Ticks and Keeping Them Away

Fleas and ticks are a very common problem for pet owners, but fortunately there are many steps that can be taken to minimize this problem. The best ways to get rid of fleas and ticks are methods that disrupt the life cycle of these pests, kill mature parasites and their larvae and make the area less hospitable for fleas and ticks to stay nearby. To end a flea or tick infestation, try…

  • Medications
    There are several types of pet medications that can subtly alter the pet's body chemistry to make it less attractive to or even harmful for blood-sucking parasites like fleas and ticks. These medications may be pills or could be mixed into the pet's food.

  • Shampoos
    Special shampoos and conditioners with flea and tick medications incorporated into their formulas can be effective at removing and preventing these pests. The strength of the products can vary, however, and their effectiveness will also depend on the pet's coat type and density.

  • Dips
    A flea or tick dip is a concentrated treatment that may be sprayed or rubbed onto a pet's fur, or the pet may be dipped into the chemical. These are no-rinse products that can be immediately effective, but they should be used cautiously because of their strength.

  • Topical Treatments
    Many different topical treatments are applied directly to a pet's skin or fur to discourage fleas and ticks. These may be drops, sprays or powders that are meant to be left on the animal. Medicated collars are a topical treatment effective in the neck and head region.

  • Healthy Diet
    Fleas and ticks are attracted to unhealthy coats and skin that may be thin, dry, flaking or have cuts or sores where the pests can easily suck the animal's blood. A healthy, nutritious diet can give your pet good skin and a lush coat that will naturally resist these annoying pests.

  • House Cleaning
    Fleas and ticks can live in carpeting, upholstery, bedding and even pet toys while they wait for an opportunity to return to an animal. Thoroughly and frequently cleaning a pet's blankets, bed and toys as well as carpeting, rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture will minimize fleas and ticks.

  • Home Pest Treatments
    In the case of severe infestations, it may be necessary to use strong pest treatments around your home to eliminate fleas and ticks. Sprays, foggers and granules are available to kill these pests and keep them away, but be sure to follow all instructions for the safe use of these chemicals.

  • Lawn Care
    Fleas and ticks thrive in landscaping that has plenty of moist crevices for them to hide. Pruning trees and shrubs, trimming grass shorter, removing excess brush and fallen leaves and avoiding overwatering will help make your yard less friendly for these pests.

  • Discourage Wildlife
    Fleas and ticks can come into contact with your pet from many other animals, including squirrels, mice, raccoons, rabbits and deer. Take steps to keep these animals out of your yard and you won't be inviting new flea and tick hosts to visit.

  • Inside Time
    When fleas and ticks are at their height (typically from late spring to early fall), it may be best to limit a pet's time outdoors as much as possible so they are not exposed to more of these parasites. Avoid putting your pet outdoors for hours at a time in mid-summer and they'll be at less risk from fleas and ticks.

Most important of all, it is critical to keep up with different tactics to get rid of fleas and ticks or these persistent pests will move back in on your pets at the first opportunity. With an ongoing regimen and good care to keep these parasites away, your pets can remain free of bothersome fleas and ticks.