National Dog Day: Tips for fighting fleas and ticks By Erin Richardson, Owner & CEO, All-American Pest Control
The dog days of summer are here, and nothing ruins summertime fun for you and your pets like the presence of fleas and ticks. These pests thrive in the heat, and while fleas can be extremely irritating to you and your dog, the 15 species of ticks local to Tennessee can even infect dogs and families with a laundry list of tick-borne illnesses, from Lyme Disease to Tularemia.
In light of National Dog Day, I wanted to share tips to help you protect your pets from fleas and ticks.
Why do I have fleas/ticks?
Fleas and ticks are pests that require a host, and you may see them inside your home after being carried in by a family pet. A wild animal on your property can also help spread fleas or ticks to your pets and into your home. Additionally, it is possible to pick up ticks while outdoors if you brush against any vegetation or other areas where ticks are waiting for their next blood meal.
The control of fleas and ticks begins with the control of wildlife. Try these tips to reduce wildlife traffic near your home:
- Keep exterior trash in sealed containers. Make sure those containers are secure and unable to be knocked over by raccoons.
- Refrain from putting bird feeders near your home. Birds can carry ticks into your yard and when tick eggs are shed in shaded locations around your perimeter, those ticks may find the perfect conditions to hatch.
- Keep your lawn trimmed regularly to make your yard feel less like nature.
- Remove lawn clutter to limit rodent harborage.
- Keep landscaping next to your home uncluttered. This will make it less protective for animals that might explore your foundation perimeter.
- Protect food sources and harborage options with fencing. Make sure fences go at least a foot down into the ground to prevent burrowing animals.
Fleas and ticks require high humidity to survive. Try these tips to control moisture near your foundation walls.
- Inspect exterior spigots and hoses for leaks and repair any leaks you find.
- Repair damaged or obstructed gutters.
- Rake up leaves to prevent rainwater pools from forming.
- Remove any objects that collect rainwater
- Trim trees, bushes and other vegetation to allow the sun to dry the water after it rains.
How do you know if you have fleas?
When you start to find bites on your skin or start seeing fleas hopping around on your floors, there is no doubt that you have a flea infestation. An already started infestation isn’t the best time to discover the fleas. It is much nicer to detect them early and have them eliminated quickly. Here are a few tips:
- Watch for signs that your pet will give you, such as scratching and restlessness.
- If you see little specks that look like pepper, rub the specks with a paper towel. If you see blood on the paper towel, that is flea dirt.
- Use a comb to search for fleas and flea dirt on your pet.
- Inspect your pet’s bedding for the presence of flea dirt or adult fleas.
Why are fleas so hard to kill?
The reproductive cycle of fleas allows them to emerge over and over again. If you kill adult fleas in your home, new fleas can hatch from eggs or emerge from protective cocoons that are still in your home.
Does alcohol kill fleas? What about vinegar?
Yes. You can kill fleas with a solution that contains rubbing alcohol or vinegar. You can also kill them with many other natural products, or with soap. But none of these sprays or solutions are likely to arrest the infestation in your home because they treat the symptom, not the problem. Fleas are pernicious. They can emerge over and over again if you don’t use a residual product that eliminates them as they emerge.
Why have I been seeing so many ticks this year and what kinds of ticks am I seeing?
This year’s tick population has boomed because of our mild winter. Tick identification can help you determine if the ticks you have found could be spreading diseases to whomever it has bitten. In Tennessee, there are 15 different species of ticks, including deer ticks, lone star ticks and American dog ticks. If you need help identifying ticks, visit All-American Pest Control’s pest ID page.
Unlike fleas, ticks can crawl into your yard. They don’t require wildlife to get from place to place—though it is easier. If you have wooded areas on or around your property, install a three-foot barrier of gravel to prevent ticks from entering outside recreational areas.
What is the quickest and easiest way to prevent fleas and ticks?
Contact All-American Pest Control at the first sign of a problem. Our service team members use EPA approved products that have a residual effect. After your treatment, you’ll have months of protection. You’ll also be given helpful information on how to prevent flea infestations in the future. There is no better way to deal with fleas and ticks.
Erin Richardson is the first female president, CEO and owner of a third-generation business—All-American Pest Control. Since buying the business in 2012, Erin has implemented a 4-day work week and a variety of strategic bets that fueled the company’s growth and reputation. A member of Tennessee Pest Control Association and National Pest Management Association, she is active in her industry at state and national levels and has grown her family business to PCT Magazine’s Top 100 List—the top 100 largest pest control companies in the nation—and has appeared on the Inc. 5000 list in 2019 and 2020.