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Controlling Fleas and Ticks on Your Pet

Flea and tick products for pets are available in many forms, including:
Photo of dogs and cats
  • shampoos
  • collars
  • dust
  • sprays
  • spot-on products

Spot-on flea and tick products are liquid pesticides applied to a "spot" on the pet's skin, usually around the back of the neck or shoulder area.

Taking care of your pets responsibly includes protecting them from fleas and ticks. Remember these important safety tips.

How to Protect Against Fleas and Ticks

  • Consult your veterinarian about the best way to protect your pets from fleas and ticks and whether pesticides are even needed.
  • Use a flea comb to suppress adult fleas. It will allow hair to pass through the comb's teeth but not the fleas, removing fleas and "flea dirt."
    • Focus on combing those parts of the pet where most fleas gather, often the neck or tail area.
    • Put any fleas in soapy water to kill them.

​Using Flea and Tick Products Safely

  • If you use a flea and tick control product on your pet, carefully read and follow the product label.
  • Use flea and tick control products only on the animal specified by the product label --  dog products for dogs only and cat products for cats only. Some pesticides are toxic to cats but not to dogs, for example.
  • Follow any label prohibitions against use on weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown sensitivity to pesticide products.
    • Apply only the amount indicated for the size of the animal being treated.
    • Older or sick animals could react differently to a product.
    • Products are designed for specific-sized animals (generally by weight), and using more product or a product designed for a larger animal than yours may overexpose your pet to the pesticide.
  • Do not apply to kittens or puppies unless the product label specifically allows this treatment. The label will tell you the minimum age or size of the pet for use. Test results may show different effects on younger animals, leading to limits on use.
  • Monitor your pet for side effects or signs of sensitivity after applying the product, particularly when using the product on your pet for the first time. Do not apply spot-ons to pets known to be sensitive to pesticide products.
  • Keep the package with the product container (such as individual applicator tubes) in case adverse effects occur after treatment. You will want to have the instructions at hand, as well as contact information for the manufacturer.

If Your Pet Has an Adverse Reaction

  • If your pet experiences an adverse reaction, immediately bathe the pet with mild soap and rinse with large amounts of water.
  • Contact your veterinarian or the National Pesticide Information Center Exit right away for information on whether additional measures are needed to help your pet recover.

Report any adverse reactions.

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