Be Smart about Flea and Tick Prevention this Year

Flea and Tick Season is Heating Up

Fleas and ticks have been waiting for the weather to warm up just as much as we and our furry companions have. It has been a long winter and we want to get outside and stretch our legs, but so do the parasites lurking in the grass and brush.

Flea and tick season usually begins in April as the weather starts to warm up and continues into the fall. The parasites generally begin to awaken when we have a few days in a row with temperatures of 60 degrees or more.

Luckily this spring has been slow to start and we are just now seeing temperatures in or near the 60s. The extended cold period we have had, however, has only delayed the inevitable.

Wisconsin is one of the highest risk areas for tick infestation, so arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible this flea and tick season is important.

Lyme Disease Map - 2018

Did the Polar Vortex kill the Fleas and Ticks?

Maybe, and maybe not. There are a lot of factors that go into how bad a flea and tick season will be. According to accuweather.com, cold weather only kills about 20 percent of the tick population. Ticks die in temperatures ranging from -2 degrees F to 14 degrees F, but that doesn’t take into consideration their choice of overwintering habitat.

Ticks could nestle down in or near man-made structures, underground, or in piles of dead leaves. These areas will protect them from the brutal winter wind and some of the cold. A consistent layer of snow will act as a good insulator from the cold as well.

As much as we all hoped that the extreme cold we experienced this winter would have killed off the tick population, it might not have completely done the trick.

Prepare for Flea and Tick Season

Flea and tick bites will happen, but you can greatly reduce the chances that you and your pet will be bitten by taking preventative measures.

Make Your Yard Unwelcome to Fleas and Ticks

By taking steps to reduce the types of environments fleas and ticks thrive in your own yard, you will greatly reduce the chance of pest bites.

The CDC recommends taking these steps to make your yard less welcoming to fleas and ticks.

  • Remove leaf litter.
  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
  • Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences.
  • Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

Once you have your yard clear of clutter they also recommend using a pesticide. The CDC officially states:

“Use of pesticides can reduce the number of ticks in treated areas of your yard.  However, you should not rely (only) on spraying to reduce your risk of infection. When using pesticides, always follow label instructions.”

They also suggest that before pesticide application you should check with local health or agricultural officials about:

  • The best time to apply pesticide in your area
  • The best type of pesticide to use
  • Rules and regulations regarding pesticide application on residential properties

Flea and Tick Prevention for Your Pet

Year-round treatment is really the best way to be sure you’re getting the most out of your prevention measures. Even in warmer winters, fleas and ticks can remain active, so don’t let your guard down during these times.

With longer fur covering the bodies of our companions, it is sometimes hard to see if they have flea or tick bites. Even when using a topical preventative, your pets can still get bitten, though the chances are greatly reduced.

Every time you bring your pet in after being outdoors, give them a quick check for any signs they have picked up fleas or ticks.

Where to check your pet for fleas & ticks

The CDC also suggests using a tick preventive product on your dogs and cats, and recommends you ask your veterinarian about the best tick prevention products for your pets.

It is even more important to protect your pets with year-round treatment if you have multiple dogs or cats. If one pet brings a flea or tick in the house with them, then the chances are good that it will spread to your other pets and family members.

This can cause an infestation that may be hard to get rid of. Only 5% of fleas live on your pet, the other 95% live as eggs, larvae, or pupae in the environment, including your carpeting and furniture. If fleas get into your house, they could be laying these eggs. Even if you kill the fleas on your pet, you have to keep using the topical products on an ongoing basis to deal with the continuously hatching fleas.

Long lasting flea and tick products are convenient and require fewer treatments per year than monthly treatments.

To make sure your pets are getting the most flea and tick protection this year, contact Delavan Lakes Vet Clinic online or call 262.728.8622.