The start of spring is generally a wonderful occasion. The world has finally broken free of winter’s tyrannical grip, flowers are in bloom, birds are chirping, and fleas and ticks are back in full force. Okay, so that last one is definitely not wonderful, but is most certainly a reality pet parents must face with the arrival of warmer temperatures.
Unfortunately there really is no 100% effective flea and tick treatment and while the chemical based ones (think Frontline, Advantage, Advantix, etc) generally require the least amount of work, they often carry high-risk side effects like sores on the skin, hair loss, GI upset, or even seizures. There are several things, however, that we recommend to help keep those icky pests at bay that may require a little extra diligence, but they are much safer for your pet.
One of the most important things is diet. Ticks, fleas, and other parasites like to attack weak hosts. A high quality food can strengthen the immune system and improve overall health. Look for a food that is corn, soy, wheat, and by-product free. If you stop by any of our LBC locations, we can assist you in finding a food that can fit your pet’s needs as well as one that fits your budget.
Frequent baths are also important, especially if you use a non-toxic pet shampoo that is specifically made for flea and tick prevention. When flea and tick season hits, I switch Prudence’s shampoo to Mutt Nose Best’s U. Tick Me Off! It contains a mix of essential oils like citronella, lemon, clove, eucalyptus, mint, and calendula that smell fantastic to us, but terrible to fleas and ticks. You see, fleas and ticks rely very heavily on odor to find their next meal. If you mask the way your pet smells, or make them smell undesirable, ticks and fleas won’t consider them a tasty snack. Along with the Mutt Nose Best shampoo, we also have Vet’s Best, and Natural Chemistry flea and tick shampoos. Like the Mutt Nose Best, they contain botanical ingredients that fleas and ticks are adverse to. Another shampoo we have, Ark Natural’s Neem “Protect” Shampoo helps to combat the itchiness that often follow flea bites.
Bathing also give you a great opportunity to check out your pet from head to tail. Brushing and combing also grants this opportunity and is also important to do if you have a cat that won’t tolerate a bath. If you use a flea comb, the teeth are made to find any pests that might be hiding in your pet’s fur. When flea combing, it’s best to start at the head and move down the body. Really concentrate on the areas that fleas love to hide, like under the chin, and go over each area multiple times. It’s also handy to keep a bowl of hot, soapy water nearby to dunk any fleas you find. The soap helps to break the surface tension of the water so the fleas will sink to the bottom and drown. If you find any ticks that have already attached, a tick key can be used to safely remove the entire tick.
Following up the use of a flea and tick shampoo, a spray, topical powder, internal powder, or combination of the three should also be used. Along with their shampoos, Vet’s Best, Natural Chemistry, Mutt Nose Best, and Ark Natural make flea and tick deterrent sprays that are complementary to their shampoos. For dogs, it is best to spray over the entire body avoiding the eyes, face, mouth, and genitals, but for cats, since they self groom, it’s better to keep the spray between the shoulder blades only. Typically you’ll want to use these sprays at least once a week, but if you know you’re going somewhere that could potentially be invested, a good spray down wouldn’t hurt. You can also use the Vet’s Best and Natural Chemistry sprays on bedding or in the yard (Vet’s Best even has a specific bottle for yard use that you can attach to a garden hose and spray as needed). Another thing you can use in the yard is diatomaceous earth, a fine powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms. These remains are a natural source of silica which absorb the oils and fats found in the exoskeleton of insects like fleas. This dries the flea out and kills it. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth on your yard, your carpets, and even on your pets. And, since the brand we carry is food safe, you can also add it to your pet’s food as a natural dewormer. Another internal powder we carry is by Earth Animal. This mixture of brewer’s yeast and garlic, when fed daily, can help deter not only fleas and ticks, but also mosquitoes which carry heartworm and black flies.
Keeping your environment tidy is also key to flea and tick prevention. Floors, drapes, and furniture should be cleaned and vacuumed regularly. You should also change your vacuum bag frequently as fleas can survive a trip through the vacuum. Keep your grass cut short and leaves raked to limit the areas where insects can breed and hide.
Remember, no method is 100% effective. If you do decide to use a chemical flea and tick deterrent, we highly stress that you obtain these through your vet as there are many counterfeit products out there. We have often found that the most effective method is to use a combination of the products I have mentioned above. If you have any questions, please leave us a comment on our facebook page!
Until next time, Loyal fans!
Sources: Mercola.com, “Natural Flea and Tick Control”
The Loyal Biscuit Co. was named The Best Maine Pet Store by the readers of Downeast Dog News for 2010, 2011 and 2012; Best of the Best for Knox County for 2010, 2011, 2013; Best of the Best for Waldo County 2013, 2012 Pet Store Retailer of the Year - Honorable Mention and 2013 Retailer of the Year - Outstanding Growth from Pet Product News International.
The Loyal Biscuit Co. is located at 442 Main St., Rockland; Reny's Plaza, 1 Belmont Ave, Belfast; and 39 Mechanic St., Knox Mill, Camden. You can find the LBC online at www.loyalbiscuit.com or www.fb.com/loyalbiscuit.