BringFido’s Guide to Flea and Tick Season

This article was updated in May 2020.

The warmer months are here, and so are fleas and ticks. These resilient vermin work their way into our lives every year and can spoil a day out with a single bite. Luckily, you don’t have to move house or avoid the outdoors to escape these pests. Before setting out on hikes, trips and outdoor adventures with your dog, spray up and follow our guide to surviving flea and tick season.

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Ticks are tiny arachnids that can cause major problems. Photo by DrPhotoMoto / CC BY-SA 2.0

First things first: What are ticks and fleas? The short answer is they’re parasites who survive on other living things, stealing all the hard-earned nutrients for themselves. That alone is annoying, but when you add in the fact that they carry dangerous infections and diseases, they’re really going to be off Fido’s Christmas card list. Ticks, which are actually not insects but arachnids like spiders, carry Lyme disease (among other ailments) in their stomachs. This nasty infection can give both humans and dogs flu-like symptoms, joint pain and arthritis, and can even prove fatal. The areas where Lyme disease is most prevalent in the U.S. are the Northeast, Upper Midwest and Pacific coast, but it’s not unheard of in every state. Unfortunately, ticks can also give two- and four-legged victims other diseases like tick paralysis.The negative effects of fleas can range from mild skin irritation to the plague (that escalated quickly). There are 200 species of fleas that affect dogs, with the most common being the cat flea. Fleas thrive in certain areas during different times of the year, as shown in this map.

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Fleas and ticks are year-round pests, but some days are better than others. Photo by American Kennel Club

Although infections are a worst-case scenario, it’s better to be safe than sorry during flea and tick season by following a few simple guidelines.

Preventative Care

Pet parents should regularly apply a flea and tick preventative product to their dog. The different application methods include drops, chewable pills, collars, sprays and shampoos. Some contain strong chemicals while others use natural ingredients. With all the choices available, how do you know which one will best suit your dog’s needs? Here’s a rundown of the options:

Droplets can help rid your dog of fleas and ticks.

Droplets are an effective way to prevent fleas and ticks.Photo by iStock / Tatomm

Droplets

Droplets are one of the best ways to prevent fleas and ticks. Once applied to an area, usually the base of the neck, the active ingredient spreads across the body, killing harmful pests on contact. Other methods require your pet to be bitten first for the poison to be administered to the invading species. Frontline Plus is one of Amazon’s best-selling products and rates highly among customers for reliability. Packages can be purchased with three or six doses, and can be applied in easy-to-use droplets directly on your dog’s skin each month.

Chewables

Droplets aren’t for everybody, and many companies also offer a chewable pill that can be disguised in food. Unlike drops, the pills circulate the active ingredient around a dog’s bloodstream (a bite is the only way a flea or tick can be affected). Oral options like Novartis Capstar Flea Tablets are not preventative medications. Instead, they kill existing fleas that are living on your pet. Once those pests are gone, try feeding your dog EcoFlea by ColoradoDog Treats. It’s a great alternative if you don’t want to put chemicals on your dog’s skin or in her body. Depending on her size, your pup will need to eat three to six chews daily to stave off ticks and fleas. She’ll build up a protective barrier over time (often between seven to 10 days).

Flea collars are an effective way to treat fleas in dogs.

Are you in the market for a collar that can help keep fleas and ticks away?Photo by iStock / Tatomm

Collars

How about a collar that can help keep fleas and ticks at bay? Flea collars actually carry the active ingredient inside, radiating it over the dog’s body. Bayer’s Seresto Flea and Tick Collar is recommended by veterinarians, lasts up to a whopping eight months, and kills fleas and ticks through contact (no bites necessary).

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“Get in the bath, they said. We have a treat for you, they said!” Photo by @rita_thebostonterrier

Sprays and Shampoos

Most flea and tick shampoos and sprays must be used along with another preventative product. Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Advanced Strength Dog Shampoo not only kills fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, and ticks on contact, but also leaves your pooch smelling delightful from all the natural ingredients and essential oils. Sprays work in a similar fashion, and many of them can be applied to your home as well as your pet. Wondercide Flea and Tick and Mosquito Control Spray can be sprayed anywhere, smells good and is designed to give your pet’s coat a nice shine, too.Sometimes, we realize our dogs are covered in fleas a little too late to save our beloved rugs, carpet and couch. Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray can be used around your house regularly or just as a one-off after an infestation to kill fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, ticks and mosquitoes without any hazardous or harmful chemicals all over your household items.Outdoors folk who are heading to a high-risk area should also apply bug spray. Repelsafe is an all-natural option that can be used on both humans and dogs. It’ll even kill ticks on contact and help keep mosquitoes away.

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Ticks show up more clearly against lightly colored clothing.Photo by @hiking_ontheflipside

How Flea and Tick Season Affects You

By now, Fido should be equipped and ready for outdoor survival during flea and tick season, but what about the person on the other end of the leash? There are a few rules you can follow to limit your exposure to the harmful little critters. Hikers are advised to wear lightly colored clothing, which should easily show the darker colored ticks coming along for the ride. You should also cover any bare skin (a magnet for ticks), and that means tucking socks into trousers and shirts into pants. Nobody said staying safe was going to look good!

Try and stick to the main sections of trails. Stray into long grass and overgrown areas, and you’re venturing into flea and tick territory. Finally, make sure you inspect yourself and your dog post-hike. Ticks will burrow into any crevice they can find, so make sure you are thorough. Another pro tip is to try to limit your dog’s interaction with other furry flea and tick magnets. Deer, raccoons, opossums and feral cats are all known to carry an abundance of these pests on their coats. If you know they’re likely to be in the area, it’s probably best to leash up your dog.

Tick keys and tweezers can help remove ticks buried in your dog's skin.

Use tweezers or a tick key to remove ticks from your dog.Photo by iStock / Tomasz Majchrowicz

Flea and Tick Removal

As weird as this might sound, you don’t want to remove the head of a tick to get rid of it. Their heads can detach from their bodies, remain on the skin and keep infecting the person or dog (creepy, right?). Instead, grab a pair of blunt-end tweezers or better yet, a tick removal tool (like a tick key); make a part in your dog’s fur to get a good view of the pest; then pull it out by the body to leave the whole thing intact. Once removed, rub your hands and the area where the tick was attached with rubbing alcohol to kill harmful bacteria.

Don’t use your hands to attempt to squish the tick to exact Fido’s revenge, as they will just wriggle out of it and may embed themselves in your skin. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests putting the removed tick in alcohol, a sealed container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet to be sure it can do no more harm. Regularly checking your furry friend for fleas and ticks is an important best practice. Every time your dog goes outside, inspect her thoroughly on return (especially in areas with less hair, like the ears and under the legs). During peak season, it’s recommended that you do this every day.

Also keep an eye on the places where a tick has been embedded on you or your dog. One of the first signs of Lyme disease is a spiral-shaped bruise that appears around the area. Take your dog to your vet if you are at all concerned that she may have contracted an infection (or get yourself to the hospital). In most cases, when infections are caught early, they are treatable with antibiotics.

Removing fleas is a totally different process. Dogs who run and hide when they hear their owners utter the dreaded words “bath time” will thank them afterwards for taking care of the itchy parasites that have been living rent-free on their fur. Any kind of lather kills fleas, so most dog shampoos will get rid of them in the bath. As we mentioned before, there are a number of flea and tick shampoos that are specifically designed to target fleas, including TropiClean Natural Shampoo, which is made using essential oils. Apple cider vinegar helps to balance your dog’s PH after a wash, which is useful because fleas hate dogs with a balanced PH. The final step is to use a flea comb, like this one from Safari. Go over your dog’s fur after her bath to catch any clingers and to remove dead fleas. The comb should be used once a week during peak flea season.

This post from BringFido originally appeared as BringFido’s Guide to Flea and Tick Season.

Summer Calls at These Eight Dog-Friendly Beachfront Campgrounds

Summer is almost here, and many of us are dreaming of a trip to the beach. If you’re thinking of escaping to the sand and sun with Fido, camping offers an affordable alternative to a hotel or rental. These eight beachfront campgrounds are either currently in operation for campers practicing social distancing or are scheduled to reopen by the summer of 2020. Reserve a pet-friendly campsite now so your dog can look forward to falling asleep to the sound of the waves, sniffing the salty air, and enjoying the sea breeze in his fur.

1. Boyd’s Key West Campground

Key West, FL

A Goldendoodle Sits on a Table at a Dog-Friendly Beachfront Campground in Key West.

“Is it lunchtime yet?” – Photo by @obitheminidood

Spend a sunny day road tripping down US 1 with Fido and set up camp in an oceanfront site at Boyd’s Key West Campground, located at Mile Marker 5. Whether you’re in an RV, camper, or ready to pop the tent, there’s a spot for you. This dog- and family-friendly oasis offers plenty of walking paths to take your pup for an early morning or evening stroll. Bring your own kayak or paddleboard, or rent one while you visit. Your pooch will enjoy a day on the smooth, clear water.

Boyd’s Key West Campground plans to reopen in June. Rates start at $55 a night, with no additional pet fee for dogs.

2. South Padre Island KOA

South Padre Island, TX

A Dog Lies in the Fenced Dog Park at a Pet-Friendly KOA in Texas.

“All this is for me?” – Photo by Facebook.com/SouthPadreKOA

If camping on the Gulf Coast with Fido sounds fun, we know a “pawsome” spot where dogs and humans alike can relax in the warm gulf breeze. South Padre Island KOA is a dog’s dream island getaway. Leashed dogs will love splashing in the waves of South Padre Island’s beaches, exploring sand dunes and paddling the calm, clear water. Playful pups can also check out the campground’s Kamp K9 Dog Park, and there are two dog walk areas with gorgeous views.

The South Padre Island KOA is now open, although some facilities remain temporarily closed. Rates start at $57 a night. There is no additional fee for four-legged campers in RVs or tents, but a $25 per pet fee is required for dogs staying in cabins.

3. Kalaloch Campground

Kalaloch, WA

Olympic National Park on Washington’s coastline is one of the most dog-friendly National Parks in the country. So it’s only fitting it would be home to one of the most dog-friendly beachfront campgrounds, too. Kalaloch Campground sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Book a site with a view and enjoy gazing up the coastline as the tide rolls in. Take a walk on dog-friendly Kalaloch Beach and Nature Trail, and stop by the Kalaloch Tree of Life for some photos with Fido under its amazing open root system. Keep your eyes open for Bald Eagles, gulls and other coastal birds.

Kalaloch Campground and Olympic National Park may reopen as soon as May 29. All information including the reopening of roads, trailheads, campgrounds and beaches will be posted online on the park’s website. Rates start at $22 per night, and there is no additional fee for camping canines. Reservations are required during summer.

4. North Beach Camp Resort

Saint Augustine, FL

A dog drives up to North Beach Camp Resort in Saint Augustine.

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” – Photo by @maleaguiriba

You won’t want to miss a sunrise or a sunset at North Beach Camp Resort, located on a barrier island just off Florida’s east coast. The dog-friendly campsites offer plenty of sunshine as well as areas shaded by live oaks and palmetto trees to keep your pup cool. Spend all day relaxing on the beach or explore nearby St. Augustine where you can keep your pooch young at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. During your stay, take Fido out on the water in a kayak with a St. Augustine Eco Tours.

North Beach Camp Resort reopened at the beginning of May for summer camping. Rates start at $50 per night, and there is no additional fee for sandy-pawed pups.

5. Edisto Beach State Park

Edisto Beach, SC

Two Dogs Camp on the Beach at a Pet-Friendly Oceanfront Campground on Edisto Beach.

“We needed this.” – Photo by @peabodyandlilguy

South Carolina is home to four beautiful oceanfront state parks, each welcoming furry campers. However, Edisto Beach State Park Campground takes the top spot when it comes to fun for Fido. Spend the day digging in the sand or splashing in the waves, or stroll along 4 miles of interpretive trails winding through Live Oaks with Spanish moss and Palmetto trees along the marsh. You may spot wildlife like white-tailed deer, ospreys and even alligators, so keep your pup on a leash at all times. You can even take your canine on a cruise through the Edisto waterways with Botany Bay Ecotours. Before you settle in for the night, take a nighttime stroll along the moonlit beach. Just remember to keep all lights out for nesting Loggerhead sea turtles!

Edisto Beach State Park opened at the beginning of May for camping. Rates start at $60 a night, and well-behaved dogs are welcome for no additional fee. Advance reservations are recommended.

6. Sagadahoc Bay Campground

Georgetown, ME

A Man and Dog Lounge on the Beach at a Pet-Friendly Oceanfront Campground in Maine.

“Who needs the beach when you have a tennis ball?” – Photo by @lowghun

Put your paws in the water, fish, or dig for clams at the dog-friendly beachfront campsites of Sagadahoc Bay Campground. There are 48 campsites and four cottages that welcome pups. Choose a pet-friendly spot on the beach and enjoy direct access to the ocean. Fido will love running on the 1.5 miles of beach during low tide, and kayaking and paddleboarding are an adventure when the tide is high. There’s no need to worry about dinner plans. Maine “lobstahs” can be delivered directly to you, either already prepared or ready for the pot.

Sagadahoc Bay Campground will open July 1, 2020. Rates start at $39 per night with no pet fees for two pets per campsite. Additional pets may be permitted with campground approval for an additional fee of $5 per pet, per night. Pets are also allowed in rental cottages for an additional fee of $5 per pet, per night plus a $100 refundable security deposit.

7. Kirk Creek Campground

Big Sur, CA

A Pomeranian Sits on the Sand at a Dog-Friendly Beachfront Campground.

“This is my idea of social distancing!” – Photo by @eligh_the_dude

Take a leisurely drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and set up camp at Kirk Creek Campground in Big Sur. Every site, whether tent or RV, boasts an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean. With a camping permit, you’ll be able to fish, surf, or bury your paws in the sand at Sand Dollar Beach, and explore the mossy rock formations of Pfeiffer Beach. Lucky campers might even spot migrating whales. There are also 323 miles of trails to explore in Los Padres National Forest. While there are no hook-ups, each campsite includes a fire ring and grill, so you can enjoy an evening dinner around the campfire while listening to the waves crash along the rocky shoreline.

Kirk Creek Campground will reopen in mid-May 2020. Camping fees are $35 for a family of 6 and one vehicle. For each additional person up to 8 people, there is a $10 fee, and $10 for a second vehicle. Reservations are required three or more days in advance.

8. Assateague National Seashore Campground

Berlin, MD

A Brown Dog Sits by a Green Tent at a Pet-Friendly Oceanfront Campground in Berlin.

“I heard there are some ponies here I can make friends with.” – Photo by @jenwspack

Assateague National Seashore Campground allows you and your furry family members to experience what it’s like to live on a barrier island. Dogs are only permitted on the Maryland side of the park and not allowed in the lifeguard patrolled areas of the beach. However, there is plenty of pet-friendly sandy coastline for leashed pups to explore. Fido might even spot wild ponies and other animals along the beach. Just make sure he keeps a safe distance and doesn’t harass any wildlife. For a toasty warm evening, book one of three “open fire” sites and cuddle with your pooch while making s’mores.

Assateague National Seashore Campground has not posted a reopening date but should be in operation by the beginning of summer. Check for updates on the park website. Rates start at $16 a night, and there is an additional $15 park entrance fee. Dogs are welcome for no additional charge. Reservations are required during peak season.

This post from BringFido originally appeared as Summer Calls at These Eight Dog-Friendly Beachfront Campgrounds.

Fido’s Got The Itch: How To Relieve Your Dog’s Seasonal Allergies

The sun’s shining, birds are singing and bees are buzzing in the backyard. While it’s great to see pretty flowers blooming, an excess of pollen in the atmosphere can put a damper on things. Seasonal allergies don’t just have a negative effect on humans. Fido may also suffer symptoms caused by his body having an adverse reaction to foreign substances in the air. Here’s how to identify and treat seasonal allergies in your dog.

Signs of Seasonal Allergies

A Fluffy Dog Yawns on a Terrace.

“Bless me!” – Photo by Barbel Recknagel from Pixabay

Fortunately, it’s not hard to tell if Fido is suffering from seasonal allergies. Check out these “tell-tail” signs:

  1. There’s nothing quite like scratching an itch, but doing this excessively can worsen the problem and even lead to secondary infection from bacteria. Look out for an increase in scratching and gnawing.
  2. The vacuum cleaner is already working double-time to keep up with your pup’s shedding, but keep an eye out for even more fur than usual during allergy season. Dandruff can also be an indicator of dry skin caused by irritation.
  3. Dogs lick themselves for cleanliness and out of boredom, but too much paw licking can be a sign of an allergic reaction.
  4. Does your pooch scoot her booty every time she goes outside? She might be trying to tell you that she has seasonal allergies.
  5. The ears are a giveaway to numerous canine health issues. If your dog is flapping his head and frequently trying to scratch inside his ear, allergies could be the reason.

Managing Canine Allergies

A Chihuahua Stands on Hind Legs in the Grass.

“Next time, let’s stick to the trail.” – Photo by Rebecca Schönbrodt-Rühl from Pixabay

Mitigating the irritating and unpleasant symptoms of allergies should be high on the agenda for any responsible dog owner. After all, feeling itchy and scratchy all day long can have a negative effect on your pup’s mental health. With a few simple changes to her lifestyle and the adoption of certain remedies, you can drastically improve her life.

A Leashed Dog Sits in Tall Grass.

Avoiding long grass and high pollen areas on daily walks can help.Photo by Felix Wolf from Pixabay

Out and About

If your daily walk usually takes you through meadows or a neighboring flowerbed, then it might be time to try a new route that avoids areas of high pollen. Another way of limiting exposure is by steering clear of walks in the early morning or late at night.

A Dog With Seasonal Allergies Gets a Medicated Bath.

“You know I’m going to roll around in the mud in like five minutes, right?”Photo by oritslama from Pixabay

Keep it Clean

Bath time! Those two words can send a shiver down the spine of even the toughest of terriers, but a few minutes of discomfort can lead to long spells of itch-free happiness. Bathing Fido with the right products a couple of times per month can help soothe unpleasant symptoms. This hypoallergenic shampoo contains no harsh ingredients and is designed for pets with sensitive skin. Remember, don’t bathe him too much, as this can also make his skin dry. Instead, wipe his paws and fur with a damp cloth or an allergy wipe when he comes inside from the backyard or home from a walk to remove some of the pollen.

A Dog Lays His Head on a Pillow.

“There’s nothing like the feeling of clean sheets!”Photo by Renato Laky from Pixabay

Keeping Fido clean isn’t the only way of reducing pollen contamination in your home. Cleaning your sheets and vacuuming carpeted areas can prevent your clean canine from becoming covered in pollen as soon as he lies down. Replacing your air filter regularly will also lower the amount of pollen inside your home.

A Wheaten Terrier Poses With Zesty Paws' Aller-Immune Bites.

“A treat a day keeps the itch at bay!”Photo by @harlow.the.wild.wheaten

Treat and Treatment

Have you made adjustments to your daily routine, but you’re still not seeing any results? It might be time to introduce an herbal remedy. Zesty Paws’ Aller-Immune Bites are designed to support digestive and immune health through a blend of detoxifying apple cider vinegar, omega-3 fatty acids and more. These ingredients promote a healthy response to seasonal allergies. If your dog can’t scratch that itch, spray him with soothing skin tonic spray. This topical conditioner provides fast-acting relief to hot spots and dry skin.

The severity of symptoms varies for each dog. Persistent issues may require an antihistamine prescription from your veterinarian.

This post from BringFido originally appeared as Fido’s Got The Itch: How To Relieve Your Dog’s Seasonal Allergies.

How To Fend Off Fido’s Boredom

Stay-at-home orders across the U.S. have altered normal routines for every member of the population, including pets. Four-legged inhabitants who are used to shopping for treats at their favorite pet store or mingling together at the dog park are temporarily cooped up at home. One way of keeping canines entertained during lockdown is by introducing tricky toys, tantalizing treats and exciting eats. Thankfully, Petco offers all of these and more, hand-delivered to your car with its curbside pickup service. It’s the safe and socially responsible way to ensure your best friend has everything he needs. Fido will be able to receive his goods within 1-2 hours, and you can enjoy 10 percent off your order on select items when you shop online and select “I’ll Pick It Up.”

1. Freshen Up Fido’s Nest

This dog loves his dog bed.

“Let sleeping dogs lie!” – Photo by @chewtoyboi123

Dogs sleep an average of 12-14 hours a day, and these numbers are likely to be even higher at the moment. Gift your pooch a welcome retreat for one of her many dog naps with this Orthopedic Pillowtop Lounger. The bottom layer is made of orthopedic foam for support, and the pillow top provides extra comfort for “paw-fessional” snoozers!

2. Top It Off

Raw boost mixers add flavor and nutrition to your dog food.

Ready to mix it up. – Photo by @juliacabanblog

During stressful times, it’s best not to change your pet’s diet entirely. Instead, why not try introducing a topper or mixer to your dog’s food? With just a little sprinkle, she’ll experience brand new flavors and feel the benefits of additional nutrients. Petco’s selection includes mixes that improve gut health, the immune system and heart health.

3. Take It Slow

A dog test-drives his Neater Slow Feeder.

“Slow and steady, that’s the ticket.” – Photo by Facebook.com/NeaterPets

If he eats his dinner in three gulps, how’s Fido going to fill the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day? Help him pass the time and live a healthier lifestyle with the Neater Slow Feeder. Dogs can suffer from bloating if they eat meals too quickly and ingest too much air with each mouthful. This phenomenal feeder forces your pup to taste every mouthful, and the extender makes for a more comfortable dining experience, too.

4. Take Fetch to the Next Level

A happy dog plays with an iFetch tennis ball launcher.

“I don’t need you any more, human.” – Photo by @happypappyjivi

Anybody who has spent more time gardening recently will know that dogs with tennis ball addictions love to slow down the process. Give your pup a real workout with iFetch. This automatic tennis ball launcher flings a mini tennis ball 10, 20 or 30 feet, giving you the opportunity to relax and spectate or get some yard work done. The lower distance settings are great for in-home play as well.

5. Reinvent An Old Favorite

Keep Fido occupied with KONG Easy Treat.

“Who needs new toys when you have a KONG?” – Photo by @kongcompany

What pup doesn’t like the classic KONG? Big or small, there’s a KONG to suit your canine. The only thing better is one packed full of flavor. Use KONG Easy Treat to upgrade the gold standard of dog toys with delicious peanut butter paste. For other ways to entice Fido, check out these creative recipes.

6. Put Fido’s Brain To Work

A dog prepares to solve a treat puzzle.

“I have all the time in the world to figure this puzzle out!” – Photo by @dustin.the.cobberdog

Put an end to puppy boredom with a challenging treat puzzle like this one from Outward Hound. He can stick his nose where it is wanted for once, and use his brains and paws to try and dislodge treats hidden inside this fun dispenser. It’s a mental workout with a tasty reward!

Curb Your Enthusiasm

A happy dog waits for Petco curbside pickup.

“Happy to be here.”Photo by @opie_berner_gal

Get all of these goods, along with thousands of other foods and supplies for your pet, delivered straight to your car with Petco curbside pickup. Place your order online or using the Petco app and select “I’ll Pick It Up” to save 10 percent on select items. Your order will be ready within 1-2 hours, and you’ll receive an email with a contact phone number as soon as it’s available for pickup. Call the number when you’re outside, and a Petco employee will deliver to your car door.


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Petco.

This post from BringFido originally appeared as How To Fend Off Fido’s Boredom.