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Preventing Fleas and Ticks

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2010

Most people think that flea and tick season ends with summer, but that is untrue. Until there is a hard frost, fleas and ticks linger outdoors; in fact, new ticks can hatch if the temperature simply rises above 40 degrees for several hours. Keep your pets flea- and tick-free year-round with these tips from Dr. Peter Kross of Manhattan's Rivergate Veterinary Clinic.

Ticks
If you think your pet may have a tick, first use a magnifying glass to make sure it is not a mole. Then, use tweezers to remove it from the skin with gentle traction, and clean the area with alcohol. Place the tick in a zip-top bag and dispose of it in the trash. Watch your pet for Lyme disease symptoms, including lethargy and lameness due to fever and joint pain as a result of inflammation.

Watch the Tick Encounter Resource Center's video guide of how to remove a tick.

Fleas
If fleas infest your home, take an aggressive approach. Begin by thoroughly vacuuming your home, paying special attention to the places most inhabited by pets, and dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag. Then, use a premise spray or fogger to kill eggs and larvae, as well as adult fleas.

To use a fogger, evacuate the area being cleaned for 2 hours, with ventilation off and windows shut. (Be sure to open the windows and turn ventilation back on well in advance of returning pets to the home.)

Premise spray, an aerosol that is used to kill adult fleas and ticks as well as larvae, does not require evacuation of the home, although pets should not be around while you are using the spray. After applying the product, do not clean or vacuum the area immediately to give the chemicals time to do their job. Make sure that you spray lobbies, elevators, and any other areas where your pet spends time.