By Ann Jarema

Spring is here, and with it comes tick and flea season in many areas of the United States.

Parasites like fleas and ticks aren’t just gross little blood suckers, they’re also transmitters of disease.  According to the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, fleas often carry bacterial pathogens, while ticks can also carry other diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  Diligence in controlling flea and ticks in your pets is essential for their health – and yours.

Prevention Tips

  • When it comes to parasites, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow these tips to help prevent issues with fleas and ticks:
  • Keep pets away from long grasses and thick brush.  Mow your yard regularly and keep bushes trimmed. 
  • Keep wildlife and feral animals away from places your pet is exposed to.  These animals often carry parasites that can spread.
  • When your pet comes inside, give them a thorough check from head to tail for ticks.
  • Plant flea repelling plants. Certain plants contain compounds that fleas avoid.  Try one of these options in planters or flower beds:
  • Lavender
  • Spearmint
  • Pennyroyal

One of the best flea control methods is cleaning.  Fleas congregate where your pets spend most of their time, so be sure to regularly wash all pet bedding. Vacuum and sweep pet areas often.

Methods of Flea and Tick Treatment

If you want to avoid chemicals, there are many natural options available.  These can range from essential oil blends to specific diet additives. 

Here are a few simple options for natural treatments:

  • Bathe animals thoroughly in a tub.  Since fleas do not grasp and hold onto the hair shafts, they will drown in the water.  During bathing, also check for ticks.  If you find any, remove them immediately.
  • Create your own herbal flea spray:  Mix 1 gallon vinegar, ½ gallon water, 16 ounces lemon juice and 8 ounces witch hazel in a spray bottle.  After cleaning carpets and floors, spray them thoroughly with the mixture.
  • Consider adding beneficial nematodes and/or lady bugs to your yard.  These feed on fleas and their larvae and can be found in your local garden shop.

When choosing any type of flea and tick treatment, work with your veterinarian to determine the safest and best course of action for your pets.

Create your own herbal flea spray:  Mix 1 gallon vinegar, ½ gallon water, 16 ounces lemon juice and 8 ounces witch hazel in a spray bottle.

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