The earlier you spot a flea invasion and treat it, the better your experience will be at eradicating them. If you spot the problem early on, chances are that you can stop a full blown infestation. If you notice your pet scratching itself more than usual, check their skin and coat for signs of fleas. In the beginning stages it can be hard to identify that your pet has fleas, and can be especially hard to spot in a pet with darker fur. Live fleas are an obvious sign, but if you can’t find any live fleas you can also check for ‘flea dirt’. Flea dirt is actually the flea’s excrement of your pet’s blood – it is small and black, and looks like a fine layer of dirt.
Groom your pet with a fine-tooth comb, paying special attention to the area at the base of the tail – a favorite place for fleas to reside. After combing, place the hair and dirt removed on a damp white paper towel – the black ‘dirt’ will turn red as the dried blood regains its moisture. If you see this, this is a sure sign there are fleas present!
For years, flea and tick preventatives used harsh, even toxic chemicals to ward off and kill fleas and ticks. Unfortunately, these products have been linked to serious health issues and pests even seem to be building a tolerance to these chemicals. Safer and milder products have become available, using plant-derived ingredients such as pyrethins. However, even these products can be somewhat harsh and even toxic in large enough doses. More recently, an all-natural and completely safe range of flea and tick products has become widely available, effectively treating the pests without the concern of any negative effects.
The most effective way to treat for ticks and/or fleas is to focus on 3 distinct methods – Internal, External and Environmental. Working with all 3 will ensure the best long-term results.
Warm weather can be a frustrating time for pet owners as their pets and homes are hit by a pesky flea invasion. Once fleas have infested your home, trying to get rid of them can be an unpleasant and tricky process. Left without treatment, fleas can become a major health concern for your pet. There are many products available, but it can be hard to decide which to use. The best solution is to prevent infestation in the first place, or at least catch and treat the problem in its early stages before a full blown infestation occurs.
Simply killing and repelling the pests on your pet is only part of the process. Many natural and safe products are available to work from the “inside-out” with your dog or cat. Supplements can be added to your pet’s food that contain garlic and nutritional yeast, both of which work synergistically to create an environment that repels pests from your pet. Fleas and ticks dislike the odor and taste that garlic gives off in the skin and blood. As an added bonus, pets typically enjoy the taste of these supplements and garlic has many added health benefits!
Tablets, such as Capstar, can be administered orally and will begin to kill fleas on your pet within 30 minutes. However, the active ingredient (Nitenpyram) in Capstar will not kill flea eggs and has no long-term activity so it is best used in conjunction with other products.
Fleas can cause great discomfort and pose a serious threat to a pet’s health. The longer they are left untreated, the higher the chance your pet will develop further illness or injury. This is particularly so for young animals, as adult fleas feeding on their blood can result in anemia, weakening the puppy or kitten sometimes to the point of death. Fleas can also carry the larval stage of tapeworm, which your pet can become infested with by accidentally eating fleas while grooming themselves. Effectively treating for fleas and ticks can reduce the risk of them transmitting disease such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Humans can be affected by fleas too – once they have made themselves at home in our environment, we may find them jumping around our ankles leaving painful and itchy bites.
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There are many external treatments available, ranging from topical medications to shampoos and collars. Typically, a topical medication such as Frontline or Advantix is most effective, killing the pests that come in contact with your pet within 24-48 hours. However, it should be noted that these products are not repellants, as fleas can still jump onto your pet even after these medications have been applied.
A few points to consider when using topical medications:
Be sure to consult the product packaging before use.
Many natural and safe topical sprays are available to kill fleas and ticks on direct contact. Some products use natural cedar wood oil to effectively repel and kill both fleas and ticks. Apply directly onto the pet as well as around the home for immediate elimination of all life stages of fleas and ticks.
Many natural and non-toxic shampoos are available to help ward off pests and also to soothe the skin during and after an infestation. Neem oil is a naturally derived vegetable oil from the Neem tree, an evergreen tree from the tropics. Shampooing with Neem, or using wipes with Neem oil, will help to keep the pests at bay and help the affected skin which may have become irritated, red and dry/flaky.
If fleas or ticks are found on your pet, they are most likely found in your home as well. Both pests can reside in carpet, on furniture, blankets, etc. Therefore, an environmental treatment is necessary to fully ensure that annoying pests are eradicated.
First, a thorough cleaning of the affected area is needed:
Once this has been completed, use an area spray directly on linens, carpet, furniture and the like. Sprays may be used directly on pet beds, carpets, cat trees, blankets, etc. Cedar oil products will help to kill off any remaining pests or their eggs located in the environment.
In addition, Diatomaceous Earth can be sprinkled in the affected area to help kill pests. Diatomaceous Earth is made of the fossilized skeletons of diatoms, which are microscopic algae. These tiny skeletons are razor sharp to fleas and ticks and yet harmless to humans and pets. Be certain to use food grade Diatomaceous Earth only and avoid breathing in the fine powder. Sprinkle on and around affected areas and vacuum up after allowing it to sit for a few hours or longer, if possible.
Keep your yard well maintained and keep the grass cut short. Limit your dog’s exposure to time outside or to areas with a high risk of reinfestation. Spray outdoor areas with an appropriate outdoor flea and tick repellant.
If treating multiple pets for fleas and/or ticks, it may be advisable to keep them separate for 48 hours while the treatments take effect.
Total and effective flea control means that you must kill adult fleas on your pet, prevent eggs from hatching on them or in the surrounding environment, and exterminate infestations from your home. You must continue this process, repeating steps in order to prevent a reinfestation. Simply put, no thorough flea treatment excludes the treatment of the home. You can get rid of all the fleas on your cat or dog, but leaving the indoor environment untreated will allow eggs to hatch and the fleas to come back.
Controlling ticks can be easier in some ways, as ticks will mainly be found living on your pet and not typically in the home. Controlling both types of pests can be very similar, however some products are made specifically for the control of only ticks or only fleas.
What about heartworm prevention? Many customers come in looking for products like Heartgard Plus or Revolution. We cannot sell these products because they contain medication to kill heartworm microfilaria, and can be dangerous or even deadly given to dogs that have heartworm. Dogs should not be put on a heartworm preventative without a negative heartworm test from their veterinarian. You must get this product from a veterinarian.
What is the difference between a flea and a tick?
Scientifically called small arachnids from the Ixodoidea family, ticks are external parasites that live on the blood of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. They can bring about diseases such as Lyme, Q-fever, relapsing fever and Tickborne meningoencephalitis.
Fleas, on the other hand, are insects, which are also external parasites. They live off the blood of mammals, birds, and yes, even humans. Some of the most common species of fleas include those which are found in cats, dogs and humans.
If you have pets, and you are not sure whether they are being attacked by ticks or fleas, it is best to consult a veterinarian. Once fleas attack, it will result in an itching sensation on the body of the host. Pet owners may have allergic reactions to the saliva of fleas, which may result in rashes, while the bites of fleas would cause inflammation of the affected area.
Ticks attack in such a way that they attach themselves to the body of the host. They can also jump, fly, or drop from a perch, and fall onto some unsuspecting victim. Ticks are usually found in areas where tall grass and shrubs grow, while fleas can be found in homes where there are pets and other animals inhabiting.
Cedar oil is effective against pests that are driven to food, water, and mates by pheromones, like fleas. Cedar targets a neurotransmitter receptor called octopamine, which is only found in pheromone-driven pests. When cedar is present, these pests will evacuate the area. If they can't evacuate, they will die. Beneficial insects ("good bugs"), like bees and butterflies, are sight-driven to food, water and mates, and are therefore not affected by the presence of cedar in their environment. This is how the cedar acts a repellent.
The fleas you see most likely started as flea eggs that were deposited in the environment before you began using Frontline. Consecutive monthly applications of Frontline will assist in the elimination of an indoor flea life cycle, and treating the environment may be necessary to help break the life cycle and rid the environment of fleas.
Remember the three facets of pest control:
External, Internal and Environmental.
Yes, our product is the same product a veterinarian sells.
We do not sell any heartworm preventive. Your pet must have a negative heartworm test from your veterinarian before a preventative is administered, as giving a preventative if your pet is heartworm positive can be dangerous or even deadly. You must get this product through your veterinarian.
At PetPeople we are a group of dedicated and passionate pet people. We are so enthusiastic to engage our customers, exchange information, and work together to solve common pet problems. We hope you will continue to come to us with questions, problems or situations regarding your pets’ care. It is our goal to be a partner with you and your veterinarian in the health and well-being of your pet.
While we are happy to advise you and share our knowledge with you, we would never propose that our recommendations be used instead of consulting with your veterinarian about any concerns or issues. You know your pet better than anyone, and should always use your best judgement regarding obtaining the best care for your pet. ©2015 PetPeople Enterprises, LLC