Growing up in the Northeast and having pets all my life, I know how much of a nuisance fleas and ticks can be. They can cause a multitude of problems; ranging from skin irritation to Lyme disease. Lyme disease in pets wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today, and the use of flea and tick treatments was limited, if used at all. I don’t ever remember using topical products on the family dogs through the years, and maybe the occasional flea collar would be put on if there was a particularly bad infestation that season.

Recently relocated to Skaneateles and living on the edge of a heavily wooded area, I noticed there was an abundance of bugs and reminded myself that I couldn’t forget to give my three dogs their flea and tick medication this month. I have been diligent about applying the medication and luckily, have not seen a flea or tick on any of them.  Fleas and ticks are both external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort for your pet, so it is important to use the appropriate preventative year-round. Some owners choose to only use medication during the warmer months, but veterinarians recommend your pet stays covered even when it is cold.

There are many safe and effective ways to administer flea and tick control products. Many of the major flea control products also have formulations that will help prevent ticks. These products are typically administered topically by applying the medication as a fluid directly to the animal’s skin. There are also chewable tablets available and have shown success in pets that are prone to having reactions from medications.

Prevention of ticks can also include keeping pets out of heavily wooded areas or tall grass. As much as possible, create tick-free zones in your yard by keeping grass cut short and bushes cut back. Ticks like moist areas, so remove fallen leaves from around your home. If necessary, you may need to treat your backyard with a pesticide to reduce the number of ticks. Lastly, make a habit of performing a “tick check” on your pet at least once a day, especially if he or she has access to wooded or grassy areas where ticks can hang out. Your pet will surely thank you!