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Prevention Tips: Avoiding a Flea or Tick Infestation

It sometimes feels as though fleas and ticks are a common part of life with pets, but it doesn't have to be that way. By providing a balanced program of preventative steps coupled with appropriate treatment options, you can avoid flea and tick infestations and put your pet on the road to a life that's free of these troublesome pests. Here's how:

Prevent flea and tick infestations—indoors and out

To effectively prevent flea and tick infestations, you must first understand their life cycle. They begin as eggs that are found in areas that are frequented by your pet, such as grass, carpeting, and furniture. These eggs hatch into larva, followed by the pupa stage (for fleas) or the nymph stage (for ticks), and then finish their cycle to adulthood. The female fleas and ticks then lay their eggs and the cycle begins anew.

Preventing flea and tick infestations includes minimizing or preventing the presence of eggs in your pet's environment. Wild animals—such as raccoons, squirrels and skunks—can carry fleas and introduce them into your yard. A fenced-in yard can minimize the presence of these wild animals in your yard and thus minimize the presence of fleas and ticks.

Indoors, you'll want to pay special attention to areas that are prime locations for fleas and ticks to be found. Prevent fleas from establishing residence in your home by treating your pet based on the treatment plan outlined on the flea preventative treatment you select. Also, be sure to wash your pet's bedding frequently and be on the lookout for any signs of tick infestation.

Treat your pet – even if you don't see any fleas

To prevent fleas and ticks from infesting your home, select a preventative treatment plan that best fits the needs of your home and your pet. There are many options from which to choose, including collars, sprays, spot-on treatments, oral treatments and shampoos. Ask your veterinarian for advice on choosing the appropriate treatment option and dose for your pet's age, weight and health condition.

Evaluate your pet

Measure the efficacy of your flea and tick prevention and treatment regimen by regularly checking your pet for fleas and ticks. Use a flea comb to carefully examine your pet's coat and check for the presence of fleas, then use your fingers to feel all over their body to thoroughly check for ticks. And even if you don't find any fleas and ticks, be sure to look for other clues. Does your pet seem itchy? Are they scratching a lot? Do they have areas of hair loss or tiny specks (black or light-colored) on their coat? These symptoms can alert you to a flea problem and signal a need for additional treatment measures and preventative steps.

Keep fleas and ticks away—permanently

You can prevent infestations by making year-round flea treatment a part of your pet's regular maintenance schedule. Spot-on and oral treatments that contain an insecticide and growth hormone regulators will provide excellent protection. Additionally, you can help keep fleas at bay by placing a flea collar in your vacuum bag or canister.

Keeping your pet flea-free will make him—and you—much happier.