Pet Pest Control

Warm summer days romping outdoors with your pet are a dream. Fleas and ticks? An absolute nightmare—but there are new ways to prevent them. 

pet flea and tick protection

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

How to tell if your pet has fleas

When fleas hitch a ride on your dog or cat, you’ll see: 

  • Excessive scratching.
  • Licking or biting of the skin. 
  • Small dark specks on your pet’s body called “flea dirt.”

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How to spot ticks

Use your fingers to:

  • Feel for bumps on their skin, focusing on areas like their ears and neck and underneath the tail. 
  • Part your pet’s fur, looking for black or brown insects as small as a pinhead.
  • If you find a tick, put on gloves (they can bite you too) and carefully pull it out with a pair of tweezers.

Note: Never treat a cat with flea and tick treatments labeled for dogs and vice versa. 

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Typical Solutions

TABLETS

How they work: A common active ingredient, spinosad, kills fleas before they can lay eggs.
What's new: A limited number of brands (mostly available by prescription) help kill and control ticks too. 
Pros and cons: While chewables are mess-free and fast acting, it’s not always easy to get pets to take them.
Best for: Dogs or cats who are severely infested. Tablets can begin tackling fleas within 30 minutes.
Protects for: One month

TOPICALS

How they work: Usually liquids, they absorb into the skin, poisoning adult fleas, ticks, larvae and eggs within 12 hours of application. 
What's new: Topicals with newer chemicals and formulations are faster acting and longer lasting.
Pros and cons: Some protect against other parasites—like heartworm, tapeworm or lice—but all may cause skin irritation.
Best for: Dogs or cats who may get anxious. Application is stress-free compared to other options.
Protects for: One month

COLLARS

How they work: In one type, active ingredients are absorbed through the fatty layers of your pet’s skin, where they spread to ward off and/or kill parasites. Another type emits a gas to repel pests. 
What's new: In one type, active ingredients are absorbed through the fatty layers of your pet’s skin, where they spread to ward off and/or kill parasites. Another type emits a gas to repel pests. 
Pros and cons: Wearables are inexpensive and most are waterproof, but if not fitted properly, pets can pull them off. 
Best for: Dogs or cats who spend time outdoors. Collars can be a great set-it-and-forget- it long-term option.
Protects for: Eight months