The soft, warm fur of our dog that we love to run our fingers through? It’s the perfect environment for flea and ticks.

Both are parasites that feed on blood. They can cause skin irritations, infections, and pain for your animals. They are more common in warmer months, but an infestation can happen any time of year. It’s essential to choose a preventative strategy and stick to it.

In the unfortunate event of a flea infestation, it’s not just your dog that will suffer. You will suffer too. Those fleas get in your house. In your carpet. In your bed, couches, and the crevices of your floorboards. The sheer amount of work and money to get these bloodsuckers out of your house is overwhelming.

Fleas transfer from one infected animal to another. Stray dogs or cats that wander into your yard are common carriers. So too are wildlife like raccoons. The female flea lays the eggs. And then those eggs get shaken off and end up in your yard. After hatching, they’ll jump on to the first warm-blooded animal that passes. Like, your dog.

The most common symptom from a flea infestation is constantly scratching and biting, leading to hair loss. Dogs will literally chew on themselves in an attempt to alleviate the itch. The chewing and biting  will lead to open sores and possibly skin infections, compounding the misery. If you see a dramatic increase in itching/scratching behaviors, check your dog for fleas.

So please, choose a preventative and stick to it: every year and all year.

I recommend the Zodiac line of flea and tick control products. We’ve been using this on all of our animals for years. It’s practical and safe. It’s easy and mess-free to apply. Also, it’s a monthly application.

If you find a flea or two, Zodiac offers spot treatments and shampoos. They’re great after a camping trip to the middle of nowhere. The treatments are effective, safe, and non-toxic.

Zodiac Spot On, for Small Breeds, comes in a box with a four-month supply. It’s meant for smaller dogs that are at least six months old. The animal should be between 16-30 lbs. Each dose will effectively prevent fleas, ticks, and mosquitos for thirty days. It will avoid re-infection if you’re using Zodiac to treat an infestation.

Zodiac for Carpet and Upholstery is an aerosol spray for your home. Or car. Or camping gear. It kills fleas, flea larvae, eggs, and ticks. And, it’s water-based and odor-free. One spray can will treat 2000 sq. ft.

The final step in an effective flea prevention strategy is nematodes. These guys can be purchased at most lawns and gardens. I’ve even seen them at some large big box stores. These are tiny microscopic worms that live in the soil. They combat a variety of common lawn pests. Usually, you buy a globe or sponge and use a lawn sprayer to apply to your garden or lawn every year or two. Carefully choose the correct nematodes. You want flea control, not grub control. Unless you actually wish to control grubs. Then buy that one.

Together these three products will provide excellent year-round protection against fleas and ticks. You’ll protect your dog, your self and your home. Also, it’s far more cost-effective to prevent than it is to treat.

Imagen Courtesy: Chicago Tribune

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