This post is also available in: Spanish

Fleas and ticks tend to become active when the weather warms up, and it can be difficult to keep them out of your home. It is something so insidious that you would not wish it on your worst enemy. A fleas or ticks infestation at home can get your nerves and if you don’t eliminate them effectively, they will surely be back in no time. These parasites usually enter our homes on the backs of our pets, hence the importance of taking preventive measures, such as protecting our dog or cat with antiparasitics. It is important to develop an effective and lasting strategy to never see them again.

Eliminating an infestation will mean treating the 3 places they are most commonly found: your pets, your home, and your yard. We recommend you begin with your pets and then move on to your home, then your yard. Failing to treat all three areas will likely lead to failure and can result in an even worse infestation. 

Bathe your dog or cat: First, check with your veterinarian to find out which is the best option for your pet. When choosing a treatment for your pet, it is important to take their species, age, weight, and health into consideration. Always read the label of the product to be sure you can use it on your pet and remember to follow the instructions in the leaflet as to how to apply it. If your pet has long hair, it’s easier for pests to hide there. So consider having your pet shaved down for the summer, making it easier to spot problems.

The downside to using a flea and tick medicated bath is that most animals hate bathing and can become stressed. It is important to note that flea and tick baths only kill the ones on the animal at the time of the bath. Most shampoos do not prevent further infestations.

Remove the ticks: It must be done very carefully. Run a flea comb or brush through your pet’s coat before you bathe your pet. You will also need tweezers, gloves and some skill. It is essential that the tick comes out whole and there are no remains embedded in the animal’s skin. To safely remove ticks, take a pair of forceps and squeeze the tick by the head (not the body), and pull upward in slow and steady motion. If you don’t see yourself able to do it, call your vet. After treating your dog or cat for ticks, ask your vet what you can do/use to prevent future infestations.

Wash clothes and appliances: Set the washing machine to maximum temperature and vigorous mode for pet and family towels, sheets, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. Finish the process with the dryer, to ensure the elimination of insects and larvae that may have lagged behind. Do this every two to three weeks. If an infestation is severe, discard old pet bedding and replace it with fresh, clean material. Also, wash dishes, drinking bowls and any object likely to be contaminated by parasites and larvae.

Vacuum every corner: Vacuum every day to remove eggs, larvae and adults; this is the best method for initial control of a flea infestation. Not forgetting the sofa, mattresses, slots, door frames, cracks and crevices on floors, under furniture, under cushions, and anywhere your pets sleep or spend time, and any place where fleas, ticks, and other parasites can be introduced. In the end, dispose of the vacuum bags that are likely to be plagued with insects and larvae. Use a steam cleaner once a month to drown fleas and clear out the carpets. You can also use the steam cleaner on your furniture.

Apply insecticide around the house: Choose one, a spray, for example, that is specific to eliminate fleas and ticks; cast it when there is no one home especially the places where pets tend to be and protect yourself from the toxicity of the components with appropriate gloves, mask, and glasses. Do not forget to spray the product on carpets, curtains, furniture, windows, cushions, rugs, your dog or cat’s bed, baseboards, and all the cracks you find.

There should be no people or animals in the environment treated with the pesticide and respect that interval of time recommended by the manufacturer of the insecticide to avoid inhaling toxic particles. On the way back, vacuum and clean the house thoroughly to eliminate all the remains of dead insects and their larvae.

Use the spray outdoors: In order to avoid the recurrence of the infestation, treat the garden and all the areas near your house where fleas and ticks could be protected, such as trees, shrubs, and weeds. If you are lucky, the nightmare will end here, otherwise, you will have to repeat the entire operation. Another option is to hire a company specialized in pest control.

Fleas and ticks can be a nightmare but do not despair, you got this! 

* This article was contributed by Dmv. Roberto Nuñez Reyes, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine