The fleas and ticks on your dog or cat are only a small percentage of the number in the animal's environment. Fleas and their eggs can live outside in grass, soil and even crevices in sidewalks, while inside they live in rugs and carpets, cracks in floors, bedding, etc. Applying poisons to the animal's body kills only a small part of the problem. You must treat the larger environment to solve the problem.


To really tackle the problem effectively, you must treat both the indoor and outdoor areas the same day, and remove all while this is underway. Getting your animals a flea dip at the veterinarian's office, where they can be dried and kept safe while their home is being treated is probably the best plan. For outdoors, purchase a flea/tick killer for outdoor use; treat the grass and soil where the animal spends most of his time. For indoors, try using a flea "bomb." This will require you to remove birds and fish as well, but is the most effective treatment. The fumes require you to stay out of the home for a number of hours. At the end of the day, bring you animals home.


Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb, vacuum frequently and dispose of the bags immediately after use, mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly, and wash your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo. In addition, to protect cats from fleas and ticks, as well as a host of other outdoor hazards, cats should be kept indoors at all times. Find safer, gentler flea and tick treatments and product ingredients at the GreenPaws Flea and Tick Products Directory.


Monthly flea treatments for pets such as Frontline, Advantage, and Revolution contain newer insecticides that are safer and more effective than older, over-the-counter products. The safest monthly treatments are available only through veterinarians or online suppliers that require a prescription. Always consult a veterinarian before buying or using any flea or tick control product on your pet. Read more on the what you should know about flea and tick products.

You may consider several topical products (available through veterinarians) that are insecticides designed to have fewer toxic effects on the nervous systems of mammals: imidacloprid (found in Advantage®), fipronil (in Frontline® or Top Spot®), and selamectin (in Revolution™). Avoid products with carbamates by looking for the chemical names carbaryl and propoxur on the label. Avoid any product with tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) as this is an organophosphate pesticide.

Consider using a product with insect-growth regulators (IGRs), which are not pesticides. These will prevent the next generation of fleas but will not kill insects already on your pet. Common and effective IGR products include those made with lufenuron (found in Program® and Sentinel® and available by prescription), methoprene (in Precor®), and pyriproxyfen (in Nylar® and EcoKyl®).


Never use flea and tick products designed for dogs on your cat, or vice versa.

Remember never to apply pesticides to very young, elderly, pregnant, or sick animals unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.

Always read the ingredients, instructions, and warnings on the package thoroughly.

--Humane Society of the United States


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