Controlling Fleas and Ticks on Your Pets

This material reprinted with permission from The Humane Society of the United States

Protecting your dog or cat from fleas and ticks is an important part of responsible pet care. But it's not easy. The fleas and ticks on your dog or cat are only a small percentage of the number in the animal's environment. Fleas and their eggs can live outside in grass, soil and even crevices in sidewalks, while inside they live in rugs and carpets, cracks in floors, bedding, etc.

The Basics: Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb, vacuum frequently and dispose of the bags immediately after use, mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly, and wash your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo. In addition, to protect cats from fleas and ticks, as well as a host of other outdoor hazards, cats should be kept indoors at all times.

Flea and Tick Products:  Although you can find shampoos, sprays, powders, monthly treatments and other products to control ticks and fleas at stores and veterinary offices, deciding what products are safe to use isn't simple. Studies have found potential hazards with certain ingredients, so discuss which product is safest with your veterinarian and always read the label carefully. You can find safer, gentler flea and tick treatments and product ingredients at the GreenPaws Flea and Tick Products Directory.

If you do decide to use conventional flea and tick products, follow these simple steps to help prevent problems:

  • Talk to your veterinarian first.
  • Learn about the health concerns regarding some ingredients.
  • Never use dog treatments on cats, and vice versa.
  • Always be certain of your pet's weight before purchase to ensure proper dosage.
  • Don't split one "large" dose in half for two small dogs (or combine two "small dog" doses for one large dog).
  • Read and follow all instructions when using these products.
  • Do not use these products on elderly or pregnant animals.