Strike First Before Fleas

'Tis the season for itching, scratching and suffering pets. Take steps to save your pets the pain.

This is the year I won't find itchy bumps on neck, a sign of fleas creeping up through our vents from the outdoor cats who live downstairs.

I'll get Frontline from the vet this week, before it happens, so she doesn't have to suffer the amount of time it takes to recognize, then heal.

Thank you, Pet Pause, for changing my wait-and-see approach. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "It's not fair to ask others what you are not willing to do yourself."

Yes, flea and tick season is finally upon us; the temperature is right for breeding, and indoor-outdoor pets are finally spending more time outdoors.

I usually just wait to buy preventative product, hoping to avoid the expense, though it's been three years consistent now Muppet's gotten fleas. And that's not fair to her, you know? And it's especially not the message I'd send to new springtime dog or cat owners.

Whether or not 2011 is your first flea and tick season, here's hoping some of this will be new to you:

Pest World for Kids: Fleas and Ticks

Take it from Rosetta Stone – learning like a child is best. (Sorry, Wikipedia.) Here's an outstanding lesson on the simplest yet obviously most important fun facts you should know about fleas and ticks. Hint: Itchy bumps ain't the half of it.

The Humane Society

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't touch organophosphate insecticides and carbamates with a 10-foot pole, based on their names alone. Yet dangerous flea and tick products ask you to apply them directly onto your pet's skin. Here's a resource of what ingredients to avoid, how to tell if your pet's been accidentally poisoned and more.

American Veterinary Medical Association

Three years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency advised against 70 spot-on treatments due to an increase in skin irritation and burn, seizures and death. Here's a summary on how the EPA has reacted since, followed by some great links to things like podcasts and an external parasite brochure.

Getting a safe preventative product for your dog or cat doesn't require an appointment and needn't be conducted through your regular vet. It's as easy as walking into a local vet's office, knowing your pet's general size and asking to purchase a couple doses.

This isn't the first time I've said this in this column, and it won't be the last: Learn from my mistakes. Thankfully, though, this year I'm taking my own advice.


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