Grooming for a Pest-Free Spring
Spring brings warmer weather and, for many pets, this means much more time outside in grassy, wooded areas where they’re vulnerable to fleas and ticks. Catching these parasitic pests early on is vital to a pet’s health. To save time, money and stress, proper grooming and maintenance can catch fleas and ticks before they cause any damage. Here are some grooming tips to share with customers, as well as some advice on tools that will help pet owners keep up with the routine.
Keep It Clean
Integrating at-home grooming into a pet’s daily routine allows pet owners to scan their pet’s body for potential threats while performing standard maintenance on the coat. If the dog’s breed allows it, clipping to a shorter coat makes it easier to detect signs of fleas and ticks. De-shedding tools can be helpful in removing excess fur on thick coats, while flea combs are useful in detangling and catching potential pests.
The Andis Flea Comb’s steel teeth are thin enough to remove fleas but strong enough to effectively detangle fur without irritating or damaging your pet’s skin. Plus, it’s more comfortable: The rounded pin ends are soft and stimulating against a pet’s skin, and the ergonomic soft-grip handle is easy on a groomer’s hands.
Most dogs scratch and fuss with their fur throughout the day, so how can a pet owner tell when a flea or tick is the cause? Look for these telltale signs:
Signs of Fleas: Fleas leave dogs itchy, so be aware of any unexpected scratching patterns. Flea dirt, or flea feces, is visible to the naked eye as small, dark clumps in your pet’s fur. Flea dirt is enough of a sign to take the steps to stop fleas in their tracks. By carefully combing through a pet’s fur to remove dead hair and debris, pet owners will be able to spot flea dirt or even fleas. Pay close attention to the pet’s underside, including the belly and tail area.
Signs of Ticks: While fleas move around, ticks tend to stay in one place. A small, dark bump in a pet’s coat or skin may be a tick. They’re easier to identify in light-colored fur, but it’s more difficult if they’ve burrowed—especially if the dog’s fur is dark. Run your hands through the fur to identify any swollen spots or bumps. In addition to the torso and legs, be sure to scan sensitive areas where ticks are likely to hide (e.g., armpits, between toes, and in folds around the face and ears).
What Pet Owners Should Do if they Spot a Flea: Fill a deep bowl or bucket with hot, soapy water. If in a carpeted area, move to a location where there is less risk for fleas or flea eggs to escape and survive. Keep the pet calm and, gently, work across their body with a flea comb. Begin at the pet’s head and ears and move down toward their tail. Continue checking the comb for sings of fleas and flea dirt, and remove fleas in the water by submerging the comb and removing debris. Fleas tend to hide on the underside of pets, especially their tails and necks, so give those areas attention.
What Pet Owners Should Do if they Spot a Tick: Put on disposable gloves, then investigate to see if it has burrowed into the irritated area. Similar to flea treatment, pet owners should have a flea comb and a container to drop the tick into. If the tick has not latched on to the pet, use a flea comb to scoop it out of the fur. If it has burrowed, it’s important to consult your veterinarian on how to remove the tick.
Catching fleas and ticks early on using preventive grooming care will keep pets healthy and safe. Pet owners should take a moment after walking their dog, or whenever they’re re-entering a car or home, to scan for possible pests. A little effort goes a long way for a pet’s health and their owner’s peace of mind.
Megan Mouser is education manager for Andis Co.’s animal division. With more than a decade of professional experience in the pet industry—ranging from corporate management roles to being a certified groomer—Mouser is responsible for developing and managing Andis’ global animal grooming education strategy and content.