Just as the temperature begins to drop and the threat of mosquitoes lessens, we are reminded of fall pests that are just as aggravating, if not more. Move over mosquitoes, it’s the fleas and ticks turn.
While fleas and ticks are a year-round nuisance, they can be at their worst in the fall. Perhaps it’s because there are lots of hiding place for them, or perhaps because the cooler temperatures draw pets and their owners out more often for hikes and walks. Whatever the reason, here are some preventative steps you can take to ward off fleas and ticks.
- Rake fallen leaves regularly. Fleas like to hide in dark, humid areas away from the sunlight. Does your dog or child like to jump in leaf piles? Only allow them to jump in freshly raked piles, and avoid wet or moldy leaves. Once the fun is done, immediately dispose of leaves in a secure trash can.
- Mow your lawn regularly. Ticks are sneaky little suckers (no pun intended) and they like to climb up the blades of tall grasses, just waiting for a lucky host in the form of a passing animal or human.
- Regularly clean outdoor sleeping areas, food, and water bowls. If possible, remove food and water bowls after use and before nightfall. The places your pet sleeps and eats tend to be high traffic areas, drawing fleas and ticks in, to lie and wait, ready to make themselves at home in your pet’s fur. Leaving food out can attract raccoons and possums, who also tend to be teeming with ticks and fleas. Make sure to wash your dog and/or cat’s bedding routinely to save yourself from an infestation.
- Be proactive. See your vet to learn about safe and effective preventatives. PetPartner’s Wellness Plans can offset the cost of flea and tick prevention with their Defender and Defender Plus Coverage.
What if my pet already has fleas? If you want to go the chemical-free route, your best bet is to run a flea comb (the Safari Flea Comb, with its double row of teeth, got rave reviews) through your pet’s fur, dipping it in soapy water after a pass through his coat, then wiping the comb on a towel before going in for another stroke. The fleas stick to the comb, then fall off in the water. Comb, dunk, wipe, repeat until you don’t see any more fleas. Also be sure to vacuum any rugs, couches, and pillows, and machine-wash your bedding and your pets’. Stick to the routine of combing and cleaning every other day for a few weeks to completely destroy the fleas, their larvae, and their eggs. If you are unable to rid your pet and your home using this method, you may need a chemical treatment. In the feature The Vets Will See You Now in the February 2016 issue of Real Simple, veterinarian Karen Faunt recommends asking your vet for a product with an insect growth regulator, which will prevent larvae from maturing.
When it comes to fleas and ticks, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." (quote by Henry de Bracton)