No-one’s in a great hurry to experience summer’s scorching heat but there’s definitely some sun loving in the air at this time of year as summer gradually begins to take hold. It’s a time of awakening – bare branches are sprouting, spring bulbs hold their heads high and people find a new lease on life. Layers of clothes are shed and out come the running shoes and bicycles, while in the home the feather duster and garden spade are put to use for the first time in months. The winter hibernation is over but, unfortunately, this also applies to the pests that love taking up residence in your pet’s fur – and the dogs and cats cooperate so well, by heading straight for the bushes and fields where these parasites lie in wait, preparing to make their nests and begin sucking blood. No living creature rejoices more in the warmer months of the year than fleas and ticks.
Tackle them head-on
You know the signs well: Old Fido begins charging around like a mad thing, clawing frantically at his ears and desperately burying his teeth in his haunches. Whatever you do, don’t turn a blind eye – even if you only detect one flea in your animal’s fur – because every flea mom can lay more than 1 000 eggs in a month.
When this happy family first sees the light of day, it burrows its way in everywhere: your garden, carpets, cupboards, even your bed. These pests prey not only on your beloved pet, but also on you, your children and just about everything else in your home that lives and breathes. Five steps to rid the pests from your pet:
1 Run a bath
These days there are many shampoos with flea-repellent properties. Remember never to use a product specially formulated for dogs on cats, as this can have fatal consequences for your favourite feline. You can even apply a dip and don’t skip a day with the brush.
2 Break the cycle
Use a preparation such as Program or Advantage, which will catch the fleas at larval stage. These drops must be applied to the neck of your pet about once a month. Remember, this product is for dogs only and should be used under the guidance of a vet.
3 Show me the mommy …
Once the larvae have been killed, you still need to eliminate the living fleas by spraying your pet’s fur or using a flea powder. There’s a wide selection at vet and pet shops.
4 Spring clean
It’s great if Fido gets out of the bath free of fleas but don’t forget that the little pests are still hiding in the carpets. You can smoke them out but this can be disruptive as you will have to empty cupboards and even leave your house for a few hours. In the home, you should be thorough about vacuuming the areas frequented by your animals. Remember to seal the vacuum bag and throw it away once you have finished. Also machine wash everything you can, such as linen, covers, cloths and curtains. In the garden you should put old, wet leaves in the sun, where the ants will make short work of the fleas hiding under them.
5 No hitchhikers, please
Don’t make it easy for fleas to nest in your car. Put a blanket in the car for your best friend and wash it every time you return from the beach. Also vacuum your car regularly.
Words and image: Home magazine