Fleas and ticks are common external parasites that plague pets and their owners, and they can cause a host of serious health issues. Follow our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Richmond team’s tips to keep your four-legged friend healthy and safe from the flea and tick infestations. 

#1: Administer year-round flea and tick prevention to your pet

The single best way to protect your pet from flea and tick infestations is to administer year-round parasite prevention. These products work by killing parasites on contact, or by interfering with their ability to reproduce, effectively breaking the parasite life cycle. 

With southeast Texas’ balmy winters, fleas and ticks don’t take a break, and neither should you. Ensure you administer your furry pal’s year-round preventive medication regularly. Opt for a veterinarian-approved product that has been thoroughly tested to meet rigorous safety standards. Veterinarian-approved products generally come with a manufacturer efficacy guarantee. Therefore, if your pet develops an illness caused by parasites, the manufacturer will pay for your four-legged friend’s diagnostic testing and treatment.

Various flea and tick preventive options are available, such as oral chews and tablets, topicals, and collars, which provide effective parasite protection for your four-legged friend. The administration route you choose depends largely on your pet’s lifestyle. If your water-loving dog swims every day, an oral product will work best. However, if your finicky cat can sniff out oral medication a mile away, a topical form may be a better option. No matter the product’s type, ensure you give them the preventive on time, every time, as even a short delay in administration can leave your pet open to parasite exposure.

#2: Groom your pet regularly

Fleas and ticks can cause a pet to experience itching, hair loss, and skin infections, but by closely monitoring your pet’s fur and skin through regular grooming, you can easily spot early parasitic disease signs. Ensure you comb through your pet’s fur, checking for small lumps that may be an attached tick. Pay close attention to parasite hotspots such as under the collar, in and around the ears, between the toes, in the armpits and groin, and at the tail base. Ticks generally prefer warm, dark areas, while most fleas set up at the spot where your pet’s tail meets their body. You may also be able to see fleas easily on sparsely furred areas, such as your pet’s abdomen.

In addition to regular brushing, bathe your pet with a mild shampoo to wash away parasites that may be crawling through their fur. When your pet’s fur is wet, you can more easily see parasites, or a recent infestation’s signs such as skin inflammation, sores, or scabbing. =

During your pet’s spa day, also clean their ears. Ticks can sneak into the warm, dark crevices of your pet’s ears, or attach right behind the appendages, where you can easily miss these pests.

Pair your pet’s regular grooming by performing spot checks for fleas and ticks. Checking your pet’s skin and fur each day will help prevent a parasitic infestation from getting out of control and causing your four-legged friend serious health problems.

#3: Control parasites in your pet’s environment

Fleas and ticks can thrive in the environment, in your home and out in your yard, lying in wait until their next meal (e.g., your pet or you) ventures past. Make your pet’s environment as inhospitable as possible to parasites by following these steps:

  • Vacuum regularly — Fleas drop sticky eggs off your pet, so to get rid of eggs, larvae, and pupae before they become adults, frequently vacuum the areas where your furry pal hangs out. Pay special attention to carpeting, under furniture, and under your pet’s bedding. When done, wash the vacuum canister with hot water or dispose of the bag.
  • Launder your pet’s belongings — Launder your pet’s belongings regularly in hot water. To eradicate fleas and ticks in any of their life stages, toss your pet’s beds, blankets, toys, and collars in the washing machine, and adjust the water temperature to the hottest setting.
  • Maintain your yard — Fleas and ticks tend to avoid sunny areas with little vegetation, so cut your lawn short and trim bushes and other plants. Remove leaf litter to dissuade small mammals from nesting, and to discourage parasites from sheltering from the elements.

#4: Avoid walking your pet in prime flea and tick habitats

When out walking your pet, keep them safe from fleas and ticks by avoiding high-risk areas. Tall grass, thick brush, and wooded areas are prime parasite territory. Avoid a trail’s perimeter, and stick to the middle, or walk on paved pathways. Parasites can transmit a host of serious diseases that can cause lifelong problems for your pet. To help protect your pet from contracting parasitic diseases, ensure they receive regular preventive medications year-round. If you’re overwhelmed by the variety of flea and tick preventives available for your furry pal, contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Richmond team to discuss the best option to keep your pet safe from parasites and their diseases.