Keeping Fleas and Ticks at Bay
It’s that time of year again: flea and tick season. These nasty little critters are annoying and potentially harmful, and with the sudden influx of Lyme disease, it’s important to know how to identify, repel, and remove them.
Fleas are hazardous to our furry companions. They are small and flat, only about 2.5 mm in length, round, and darkly coloured. Fleas do not have wings, but they can jump large distances. How to spot them: You see your pet’s fur rustling; they have reddened skin or excessive itching.
Ticks carry an extra hazard in that they can spread Lyme disease to humans and pets alike. Adult ticks are larger than adult fleas. They have a flat, tear-shaped body, and eight legs.
How to spot them: tick bites will appear like a bullseye on your skin; a red spot with a red ring around it.
In order to keep fleas and ticks at bay, keep repellant for your furry friend on hand. It’s easy and inexpensive to put together your own mixture. Here is one recipe you can whip up in your own kitchen:
- Mix together 5 drops each of tea tree, citronella, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil in one cup of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake gently. Lightly spray your dog, avoiding their face, prior to going out. This recipe can also be sprayed on your clothing as well. **Note: this is not safe for cats. Make sure to check with your vet for alternative recipes for feline companions.**
In addition to repellant, it’s important to take a couple of other precautions. Keep grass mowed and shrubs trimmed. Fleas and ticks tend to gravitate towards places with numerous hiding spots. Inside your home, make sure to regularly vacuum rugs, furniture, and floors. Be aware that although flea eggs can be picked up by the vacuum, they can still hatch. Be sure that you or your professional cleaning company is disposing of the vacuum bag into the outside garbage.
If you find that your dog does have fleas, take them outside. Bring a fine-toothed flea comb and a bowl of rubbing alcohol. Comb out your dog’s fur and dip the comb (fleas and all!) into the rubbing alcohol. This will kill them effectively. If you have multiple pets, make sure to check all of them for fleas.
In the case of a tick, the process is a little bit more involved. This type of removal is applicable to dogs, cats, children and adults. First off, put on a pair of rubber gloves for protection. Use a pair of pointy tweezers to the tick from the skin in a straight motion. Get as close to the skin as possible without pinching. That will ensure removal of the whole insect. Disinfect the bite site with antiseptic spray and dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet.