Updated: April 19, 2012 4:29PM
For pet owners, warm weather brings the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with their furry loved ones. But it also brings the risk of flea and tick infestation.
Veterinarians across the country are expecting an abundance of fleas and ticks this year, due in part to warmer winter temperatures in some areas of the nation.
"Fleas and ticks are more than simple nuisances for your pets," said Laura Petree, DVM, Manager of Technical Services for Central Garden and Pet Company. "They can cause your pet discomfort, and in the case of ticks, put your pets and your family at risk for a variety of diseases."
Dr. Petree says that flea eggs can account for 50 percent of a domestic flea infestation. One adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. If your pet has 10 fleas, your problem suddenly multiplies to 15,000 fleas in a month. "In order to effectively protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks, you need to address any initial infestation problem," she says.
Prevention is the best course of action. Making your yard unfriendly to pests is a good place to start.
* Mow regularly, keep shrubs trimmed, and rake up leaves. Keep the garbage covered so it won't attract rodents.
* Outdoor sprays can be used on lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs. They kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, crickets and other insects.
* Whenever you groom your dog or cat, check for fleas and ticks. Signs of fleas include redness and scratching, as well as what's known as flea dirt - black flea droppings left on your pet's coat. Ticks are most commonly found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and in between the toes.
* Topical treatments contain an insect growth regulator (IGR) that kills flea eggs and prevents re-infestation. They kill and repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes for up to 30 days. Many topical treatments are messy to apply. Consider using the Adams Smart Shield Applicator, which keeps liquid off your hands and lets you quickly get uniform applications down to your pet's skin.
* Shampoos clean your pet by eliminating adult fleas, ticks and flea dirt. The active ingredients must come in contact with the pests for a certain period of time in order to be effective. Results are immediate. However, because shampoos have no long-lasting effects, it's a good idea to follow the shampoo with a dip or maintenance product.
* Mists are used to kill fleas, ticks and mosquitos on dogs and cats instantly. Flea eggs and larvae will be prevented for one to two months.
Controlling an infestation
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pet brings home some unwanted pests. Here's what you can do:
* Vacuum before the first home treatment, then daily for the next few weeks. This will help remove newly emerged fleas, flea dirt, eggs and some larvae from the carpets.
* Treating your home with carpet powders, carpet sprays, room foggers or home sprays will help control fleas.
Take care of your pet and your family by having the right prevention and treatment options for your furry family member. To learn more about protecting your pet and your home from fleas and ticks, visit the Flea and Tick Education page at www.adamsfleacontrol.com.
Courtesy of Family Features content