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Guest Post by Nikki Naser
Keeping your pet pest-free is not a simple task to check off your to-do list and then forget about. It’s a year-round undertaking that begins the day you welcome a new pet into the family.
From that day forward, it’s important to stay consistent with prescription flea and tick meds and heartworm pet meds. These pests are more than simply annoying to you and your pet — they can also cause plenty of health issues, like flea allergies, hair loss from scratching, infestations, tapeworms, diseases, vomiting, and weight loss.
Here’s a pest-fighting plan to keep your pet, home, and yard free of these dreaded parasites.
Give your pet year-round protection
The most obvious place to start is with your pet. If you’ve let your flea, tick, and heartworm protection lapse, or you didn’t realize you needed to keep it up year-round, it’s really never too late to renew your effort in fighting off pests.
Fleas and ticks
You’ll need to talk to your veterinarian for a recommendation for the best prescription flea and tick preventative. The decision will be based on your vet’s opinion on effective treatments in your region, your pet’s health history, and the easiest administration method.
Flea and tick prevention comes in several forms, including topical solutions, chewable tablets, and collars. Most topical treatments and tablets are given once a month, although a few are given every three months. You will need your vet to prescribe these.
Cat and dog flea collars are over-the-counter solutions that offer seven to eight months of protection. Because they are available without a prescription, always check with your vet to review the active ingredients.
Staying current with flea protection will also help prevent tapeworms in dogs and cats, which can show up once your pet has ingested a flea.
Pet parents are often unaware of the importance of heartworm preventatives and why it’s crucial to never miss a dose. Although you can treat heartworms in dogs once infected, it is a long and costly process that can have serious side effects. And if left untreated, heartworms are deadly for dogs.
Most people don’t realize that if dogs on heartworm medication are bitten by a mosquito, they can still be infected with larval heartworms. The purpose of monthly heartworm medication is to kill these larval heartworms before they can become adults — they do not kill the adult heartworms.
Heartworm disease is much less prevalent in cats, but some flea and tick treatments also protect against heartworms.
The easiest way to remember to give your pet heartworm medication is to put a reminder in your phone. If you have missed a dose, talk to your vet about whether you need to bring your pet in for heartworm testing to ensure no adult heartworms are infecting your pet.
Other worms in dogs and cats
Have you ever wondered why your vet keeps asking you to bring back a fecal sample for your pets when you take them in for their yearly exam? What they are actually checking for is intestinal parasites like roundworm, hookworm and whipworm.
To keep your pet free of these pests, you should make the effort to collect the sample and bring it in. Often, you won’t see these worms, but only the symptoms, and at that point, you’ll have to bring your pet in to see the vet again.
Maintain a pest-free home
Now that you’ve protected your pet, the next step is to make your home a place where pests don’t want to hang out. No one wants to think that their house could be secretly welcoming in hordes of ticks, fleas, flea eggs, and the whole extended flea family.
But fleas and ticks can get inside your home by hitching a ride on your pets or even your clothing. They might come from the vet, the dog park, someone else’s home, or just from the yard.
Be sure to wash your bedding and your pet’s bed. Vacuum carpets, couches, and hardwood floors regularly to eliminate flea eggs. Empty the canister into a sealed bag and take it outside right away. You can also spray your home with a flea and tick spray that kills fleas, flea eggs, and adult ticks.
Rid your yard of fleas and ticks
This might sound like an impossible task, but you can also make your yard unattractive to pests. First, cut down any tall grass or weeds where fleas and ticks might lurk. Your next would-be houseguest could be hanging out here, just waiting for a chance to come inside.
Next, treat the yard with a spray that’s designed to kill fleas and ticks. Some will also repel mosquitoes, and there are options that include natural active ingredients. You can also try out anti-flea/tick landscaping if you want to go all in.
Enjoy time with your pets, not pests
Preventing pests from moving in is definitely easier than trying to evict them.
Here’s a breakdown of your pest-fighting tasks:
- Start flea/tick/heartworm preventative
- Set monthly reminders (or every 12 weeks for some treatments)
- Collect and deliver a yearly fecal sample
- Vacuum and wash bedding regularly
- Spray your house
- Treat the yard
Nikki Naser is the Senior Editor at Chewy. Instead of owning 30 cats, Nikki has an impressive collection of 30 cat-themed T-shirts, and just four pets—a ginger-haired senior cat, a senior Maine Coon, a middle-aged Choodle, and a young kitty who showed up one day on the back steps. When she’s not stopping to take pics of community cats to post on Instagram, Nikki spends her time with the office pets at Chewy, writing for its Pet Central blog.