Summer is officially here, and everyone is looking forward to the next few months of outdoor activities. For those of us with furry family members, summer is the time of year when they drag unwanted visitors, like fleas and ticks into our homes. The “yuck factor” for these critters is high, but fleas and ticks can expose human family members to serious diseases. Here are three housekeeping tips to prevent a home infestation with
Va-voom the Vacuum
Fleas spend very little time on your pet, which means if you see a flea on your pet, you can assume there are plenty of fleas in your carpet, furniture and bedding. The sight of a flea should send you straight to the closet for your vacuum cleaner. By vacuuming carpets and upholstery, you will remove not only adult fleas but flea eggs as well. Vacuum extra diligently in pet areas like near their beds, crates or the cat tree where fleas and ticks are most likely to fall off your pet. Once vacuuming is completed, throw away the vacuum cleaner bag. If you leave the bag inside the vacuum, the flea eggs will hatch and only make your infestation worse.
Rather than vacuum your pet’s bedding, just throw it in the washer. The hot water cycle and detergent will kill fleas and ticks in the bedding. Ditto for soft pet toys like stuffless dog toys. While you are cleaning up, use your dishwasher to clean your pet’s food and water bowls and hard toys. You wouldn’t eat off dirty dishes and neither should your pet.
Tidy the Yard
Any fleas and ticks on your pet come from the outdoors. If the outdoors your pet experiences is your yard, these simple gardening tips can decrease the flea and tick burden in your yard. Fleas and ticks prefer cool, moist, shady places. Prune bushes, trim trees and mow the lawn to create an environment hostile to fleas and ticks. Allow your lawn to dry out between waterings as fleas love moisture. Make sure all leaf litter, branches and any clutter is removed from your yard so it does not harbor ticks, fleas and their eggs. If you are an ambitious gardener, create a border of cedar chips around your yard. The smell of cedar helps to keep fleas away and the border provides a zone of protection between the perimeter of your yard and the lawn to restrict flea and tick migration.
Protecting Your Pet
A recent survey of pet owners says one-third of pet owners do not regularly give the flea and tick medications prescribed by veterinarians like me. In part due to global warming, both the habitat and season for fleas and ticks is expanding. My final tip is to give these critical medications to protect your pet against fleas and ticks so everyone has a healthy and parasite-free summer.