Summer is finally here, which means hot weather, no school, and…bugs!

That’s right—flea and tick season is upon us! These nasty little pests will sneak into your house by whatever means necessary (typically by riding in on your pet!), and as soon as you find one it’s time to wage a swift and painful war against them.

Your first step will always be to check that your pets do indeed have fleas or ticks on them. Itchiness is not always indicative of pests! Use a flea comb and scour every inch of them—especially the ears, gums (yes, gums), private areas, and between the toes. Any spot that tends to get warm and moist. If you can’t find any fleas or ticks, but your pet is still itchy and red, they might be allergic to something in their food or something outside, which is a different problem altogether.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH TICKS:

But let’s say you’ve established that they do, in fact, have fleas or ticks. With ticks, there aren’t usually any more than one or two, unless your pet has been outside for days on end and you haven’t used any kind of preventative. The first thing you want to with ticks is remove them as soon as you find them. DO NOT squeeze, burn, or try to drown them while they are still on your pet. You may cause the tick to vomit poison into the bite they made, which can cause infections. Instead, use fine-tipped tweezers and pull upward in a smooth and steady motion. Don’t twist the tick as this can cause its head to break off and remain embedded in the skin. If that does happen, try to remove the head with the tweezers in the same smooth and steady manner, and, if you can’t, bring your pet to the vet so they can do it.

After removing the tick, clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and warm water. To dispose of it, submerge it in rubbing alcohol or flush it down a toilet. If you think your pet has contracted an infection or disease from the tick, seal it in a bag or container, or wrap it tightly in tape, and bring it with you when you go to the vet. Knowing what kind of tick it was will help them determine how to best help your pet.

 

Once the tick crisis is resolved, don’t forget to use a preventative!

These come in several different forms (topicals, pills, or collars), and you can get them from any vet or pet store. And some varieties that vets sell can even double as heartworm medicine, so go ahead and kill two birds with one stone!

HOW TO DEAL WITH FLEAS:

Fleas, on the other hand, are a much harder problem to solve as their solution is a much longer and more involved process. But, if you follow these next steps, you should be able to get rid of the fleas and (hopefully) prevent them from coming back.

1) The very first thing you should do upon discovering fleas in your home is treat your pets. The easiest way to do this is to give them a Capguard—which is small pill that will kill any adult fleas living on them within 24 hours.

2) The second thing you need to do is wash EVERYTHING. This includes anything from your pet’s bedding and toys, to your bedding, to mopping your floors, to lysoling your couch. Scour every inch of your house, especially soft areas like carpets, furniture, and anything cloth. Use hot water and soap on what you can, and throw out anything that cannot be thoroughly cleaned.

3) Thirdly, after waiting 24 hours for the Capguard to treat your pet, you should bathe them. You can use a regular pet shampoo or something like Advantage II’s flea treatment shampoo. Either way, make sure you bathe them thoroughly and then go over them one more time with a flea comb.

4) Next, you need to treat your yard and your home. I’ve found that the most cost-effective way to do this is with food-grade Diatomaceous Earth. It’s non-toxic and safe for all surfaces, so spread a paper-thin layer You can use it in your yard, on your carpet, in your bed, and even on your pet! Leave it for about two to three hours, then vacuum it up, or wait for rain to wash it away!

5) Then, after waiting out those few hours, and vacuuming up the Diatomaceous Earth, use a preventative on your pet! Keep in mind that you have to wait 48 hours after bathing them (with any kind of shampoo) before using a topical preventative.

6) And, finally, continue to treat your house and yard with the Diatomaceous Earth about every three to four weeks (or as needed), until the fleas are gone.

 

Note: Diatomaceous Earth is only effective when dry, so when you treat your yard be sure to do it on a sunny day!

Armed with these tools, these summer pests will not stand a chance against the war you’re about to wage on them. Everything you need to be victorious can be found at any of our Rucker locations, and the sooner you start defending your home and pets against them, the better!