If you’ve got pets, it’s almost a given with this summer’s high humidity and relatively warm but not too hot temperatures, you’re battling a parasite problem.
Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes thrive in such conditions and controlling the pests is no easy chore. But, say veterinarians, parasitic pest control is important for people and their pets’ comfort, and overall health. To get control, said Dr. Greg Bailey, veterinarian at Austin Animal Clinic some definite precautions must be taken.
Pet owners must be diligent, and be careful, Bailey warned.
“To begin with,” Bailey said, “the pet owner must treat the animal and the environment. I tell our patients 90 percent of fleas live off the animal. That means for every one flea killed on your dog, nine more are in your house or yard.”
Even a couple of years ago, the most popular animal flea and tick treatments were shampoos or “dips,” Bailey said, but those are no longer preferred, and in general will not have long term “good results, probably the pet owner wants.”
The most effective on animal pest controls, Bailey recommends, are Advantage for cats, which will control fleas for 30 days, or Advantix for dogs, which will control fleas and ticks and repel mosquitoes. Frontline also makes a product, that like Advantage works for 30 days. Both products come in a pre-measured solution applied from a vial to a spot between the pet’s shoulder blades or down its back. Frontline makes a product for dogs and cats, but does not have a mosquito repellent. For that reason, Bailey said, he recommends the Advantage products.
Neither of the brands are available at retail stores and must be obtained either through a veterinarian or can be ordered from suppliers posted on the Internet.
Too often, shampoos and products pet owners purchase to get rid of the fleas and ticks on their animal are not reliable or effective, but Bailey said, if not used properly they can be harmful and toxic to the pet.
The second part of the pest control, is to treat the environment, and Bailey said doing so is just as important as treating the pet. It may be more difficult, however. Products are available at home and garden centers, agricultural and pet supply stores that can be applied to the yard. Bailey said he prefers sprays that can be attached to the garden hose for the yard. For the house, he also prefers sprays to powders that are sprinkled and then vacuumed. Probably the most effective are the “foggers” or “bombs.”
Those are set off in a closed house, when pets and people have been evacuated. After a couple of hours the house will have to be opened and allowed to air before “living creatures can return,” Bailey said.
And the process will have to be repeated in two weeks, because in two weeks eggs will have hatched and the problem returned.
“In the conditions we’ve had this summer, it can be repeated three or four times,” Bailey said.
If flea, tick and mosquito control can be a lot of trouble and expense. But out of control pests are more than an annoyance, Bailey said.
“Infestation can lead to big problems,” Bailey said. “There are a number of tick borne diseases that lead to severe health problems — even death — in humans and animals.”