Ask A Vet: Flea & Tick Control FAQs


tickupunctureBy Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD

Fleas, ticks and other insects aren’t just nuisances for both pets and owners alike, they can also spread mild to fatal diseases. All pet owners must strive to prevent their canine and feline companions from contracting infectious diseases transmitted by fleas and ticks with lifestyle management and appropriate anti-parasitic medication.

Here are some of the most common questions I field from pet owners about flea and tick prevention.

How do flea and tick preventatives work?

To best understand how such products work, we have to recognize that there are multiple stages of the flea and tick lifecycle that can be targeted to prevent infestations on our pets and in our homes.

Flea eggs are laid on pets, then fall off into our environment, where they mature into larvae, pupae, and finally become adults. Tick eggs are laid in densely wooded areas, hatch into larvae and then become nymphs. These adolescent nymphs require a blood meal to mature into adults.

Many products are neurotoxic insecticides that work on specific nervous receptors which adult fleas, ticks, and other insects have in greater quantity than mammals like cats, dogs, and people. As a result, the insect is paralyzed and killed by the insecticide, but your pet isn’t affected by the preventative.

Other products include insect growth regulators (IGR), which stop the proper maturation of flea eggs into larvae. Flea and tick eggs are typically resistant to adulticides, so IGRs fit the bill in disrupting the life cycle before maturation occurs.

Which product is best for my pets?doodle with squeeze meeze

The best product to use for your pet is one that will provide sufficient protection for the types of parasites in your region and for your pet’s lifestyle.

Most dogs spend time inside and outside, so they’re more prone to infestations with both fleas and ticks. If your cat is 100% indoors, then providing a product that protects against ticks may not be essential. However, ticks can always get into your home from another household pet or a simple ride home on your pant leg after a rigorous hike through the wood.

Many flea and tick products have either single or multiple insecticide ingredients effective for multiple parasites, so you may end up treating your cat for both even if she is only exposed to fleas and not ticks.

If your dog or cat lives in a mosquito-heavy part of the country, then protection against heartworm disease is vital in addition to fleas and ticks. Some products treat multiple parasites using one single ingredient, like Selamectin (Revolution), which is my preference for general flea, tick, and heartworm prevention in our canine and feline companions.

Veterinary Partner features these helpful Flea Product Comparison and Tick Product Comparison charts.

Can’t I just purchase an over-the-counter product for my pet?

General Lifestyle_cat_9581Yes, you can purchase over-the-counter flea and tick products for dogs and cats, but I strongly suggest checking with your veterinarian first.

Be sure to check species and weight requirements on flea and tick medication. Cats are extremely sensitive to certain insecticides, including pyrethrin and pyrethroid, so it is essential that canine products with these ingredients aren’t used on our feline friends. Your cat could suffer serious health problems if she takes your dog’s medication. Your pet’s size also effects the efficacy of the medication. A 100-pound dog needs a larger dose than a 10-pound dog to keep fleas and ticks off his larger frame.

What’s the best way to give my pet flea and tick medication?PetSafe Dog Park 20

This mostly depends on your preference. Some pets don’t take oral medication very well, so a medicine applied to the skin is most effective. On the flip side, a topical medication can leave your pet’s skin sticky for a day or two, and a bath or a jump in the pool can wash it right off. Talk to your vet about your pet’s lifestyle to pick the best kind of parasite protection.

What can I do from a lifestyle perspective to protect my pet?

There are many things you can do to help prevent your canine or feline companions from becoming infested with fleas or ticks. My top recommendation is to consider the environments in which your pet spends time in. Cats and dogs don’t inherently have fleas and ticks living on their skin and coat. They must go to an area where an adult flea or tick jumps on them. Your pet can be exposed to parasite at parks, daycare, shelters, veterinary hospitals, and heavily wooded areas where wildlife thrive.

You can choose to keep your pet away from those high-risk areas, or you can take these steps to prevent parasites from sticking around.

  • Limit your pet’s exposure to fleas and ticks.
  • Check your pet for bugs after visiting a high-risk parasite area.
  • Feel all over your pet for skin crusting, irritation, or sensitivity.
  • Check places on your pet where he can’t easily lick, chew, or scratch, including the head, neck, and tail base.
  • Check areas that might come in contact with bugs including the face, ears, legs, belly, and sides.
  • Check your own clothing and body for ticks so you don’t bring them in the house either.
  • Wash and dry all human and pet bedding weekly.
  • Vacuum all carpets and upholstery weekly, then seal the vacuum contents and remove it from your home.
  • Schedule your pet’s anti-parasite treatments as a calendar entry.
  • Stock up on extra flea & tick medication.

Your dog and cat’s comfort and health depends on your proactive involvement in their external parasite prevention. How do you keep your pets safe? 

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Take Your Dog to Work!


The PetSafe® office is a great place to be, especially if you’re a dog. You get to eat snacks, receive attention from so many co-workers and you even get to play with other dogs. Take Your Dog to Work Day® is today! So to honor this awesome day out of the year, we wanted to profile some of our resident dogs!

BaronBaron “the bizz” Jones

Start date at PetSafe: November 2012

About me: I am a 22 pound, “miniature” dachshund, red in color, shorter than a blade of grass in stature. My nose is long enough to stretch across the Rocky Mountains….twice. I am what you would consider to be full figured and curvy in all the right places. I enjoy long, slow, very slow, walks around the PetSafe building. My daily life consists of sleeping on the job, an occasional stroll around the office for some food, and counting down the hours until I can get home to my dinner (baked chicken and white rice…every night…don’t get it twisted).

Fun facts: I can make myself look absolutely starved while begging for food, yet I’m 8 pounds overweight (ask me about my technique later).

I am proficient in ignoring commands, giving the “hound eyes”, and essentially getting my way 100% of the time.

I can sleep 24 hours in a day, but who’s counting?

My thoughts on coming to the office: The thought of waking up at 6:30 a.m. is exhausting in itself. In fact, the thought of waking up at all is enough to make me dread going to work. However, between the belly rubs, treats and seeing my best pal, Cooper, I can muster up the energy to get to the office every day.


IMG_8260Moose McDowell-Nixon

Start date at PetSafe: February 2014

About me:

I’m a fun-loving pup who is always looking for a fellow playful pup to chase.  A momma’s boy, I enjoy following my mom around the house and sitting uncomfortably close to/on her. My favorite place to go is the dog park, and I like to swim… sometimes. My favorite food is anything my brother, Trigger, has because I tend to be very jealous.

Fun facts:

-          I can do three whole tricks, but my best talent is my heart-melting sad face

-          I have a heart murmur, but it doesn’t slow me down in the slightest

-          I can find a mud puddle wherever he goes

-          My bed time is at 9:30. Exactly.

-          I am single and looking for a long-time friend to let me win at a game of fetch

My thoughts on coming to the office:

I think the office is my playground. There are no boundaries to my curiosity, and every other working dog is just a potential new friend. My favorite parts of work are free treats and chasing dogs that just pretend they don’t want to be chased. My least favorite parts of work are wearing a leash and seeing stuffed animal dogs that just freak me out.


RoscoRosco P. Coltrane “Rosco”

Start date at PetSafe: November 2013

About me: I was born on October 9, 2005. My dad was a full-bred Italian Mastiff and my mom was a full-bred English Mastiff. I am the epitome of a “gentle giant”. I am very laid back and enjoy accompanying my Mom everywhere she goes. I live for long naps, treats and visits to the dog park. I’m a great role model to my two younger brothers and help keep them out of trouble.

Fun facts: Quentin Tarantino named two characters after me in his most recent film, “Django Unchained.”  I met the director a few years ago when he was scouting out locations for “Django Unchained.”

My thoughts on coming to the office: I’m a proud employee of PetSafe and take my job very seriously. I’m such an over-achiever that I wake my Mom up every Saturday morning ready for work.

I love to “work the cubes” for treats and visit with my human co-workers whenever I get the chance. I wish my K9 co-workers were more welcoming, but I understand my size is intimidating. My main goal in 2014 is to establish more relationships with my K9 colleagues.


Do you take your dog to work? Comment on this post and let us know much how much your pup enjoys it!


Adventures in Fostering Cats


By Roslyn McKenna, PetSafe Web Content Specialist

You meet so many different pet personalities when you foster cats. And if you happen to foster kittens, you get to contribute to what kind of cat they will become. I’ve given you a few reasons why you should consider fostering, but the best reason to become a foster pet parent is all the great animals you’ll meet along the way. You get to be part of their stories and make memories with them, whether they’re in your life for a few days or a few years. Here are a few of my foster cat stories. Imagine the stories you could tell if you opened your home to foster pets too!

Eddie the Baby

(Photo courtesy of Catster. They have a great article about bottle feeding kittens!

(Photo courtesy of Catster. They have a great article about bottle feeding kittens!

You never connect with a cat more than when you bottle feed him. Eddie was like a tiny orange tiger, with a fierce personality and a strong meow. He was too young for kitten food, so my family and I took turns bottle feeding him kitten formula. There’s nothing cuter than a kitten with a milk mustache!

You don’t always know where your fosters go after they’re adopted, but Eddie was adopted by my parents’ neighbor. I went to cat sit for her a few years later. I don’t think Eddie remembered me; he hid under the couch as soon as he saw me. He’s not a fan of strangers, but he’s fiercely attached to his adoptive mother. Even though he doesn’t remember me, I helped raise him to be a loyal, loving cat.

chili and clover toys2Chili Pepper & Clover the Siblings

There’s nothing more fun or rewarding than fostering kittens. My parents fostered 2 kittens during Thanksgiving one year. Instead of spending the whole week shopping or surfing the internet, the whole family was gathered in the kitten room to spend time together playing with Chili Pepper and Clover. It’s funny how entertaining it is to wave a feather wand across the floor and watch kittens chase after it for hours.

chili and clover su2The kittens helped us bond as a family, and they also helped a “scaredy cat” become comfortable around animals. My sister brought her friend over to spend Thanksgiving with our family. She hadn’t been around pets much, so she was afraid of my parents’ dogs and cats. When Phoebe the large dog walked in a room, she would seem to teleport to the other side of the room.

But you can’t live with 2 dogs and a bunch of cats for a few days without getting a little used to them. By the end of the week, she had overcome her fear and was hesitantly petting the dogs and letting the cats come up to her. That just goes to show you how pets (including foster pets) can help us grow and change!

Benjamin the Shy Guy

benjamin grey fosterSome foster cats need extra care and attention. Benjamin was a grey adult tabby who wanted nothing more than to be by himself. He hid behind the couch in our foster room, afraid to let anyone near him.

The best way to get a shy cat out of his shell is to desensitize him to human contact. I read a book in his room for 30 minutes every day. I started by sitting at the door and gradually sat closer to him every day. Eventually he let me sit right next to him. I would coax him out so I could pet him, then put him on my lap when he got even more comfortable. It felt great to help him change from a corner cat to a lap cat in a few weeks.

Do you have a foster cat or dog story? Tell us in the comments!

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You came for Bark For Your Park, now Stay for Best Moments


B4YP1By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

In 2014, more communities than every stepped up to Bark for their Park – over 1400. This is so inspiring to all of us that work on the contest. It tells us that there are lots of communities out there that would love to have a PetSafe Dog Park. On Friday, June 13th, we reveal our 15 Finalist Cities in our 4th annual Bark For Your Park contest. Our finalists will move forward and work hard to compete for their dog parks. But what about the many cities that were nominated but aren’t finalists?

Keep the Barking Going – Continue your efforts to get your community excited to complete your very own local dog park. Connect with your local Animal Welfare organizations and let them know you are passionate about a dog park. Form a Dog Park Team and work together to spread the word, gather resources and enthusiasm for your dog park, and your park will come to fruition. If you need extra help making your dog park a reality, we hope you’ll come back next year ready to Bark for your Park with PetSafe.

There are still chances to win – Every Friday from June 20th-July 25th, voting for your favorite city will also get you a chance to win FREE PetSafe products. “LIKE” us on Facebook to get a 7 Vote Sniff Out clue every Friday, use the clue to Sniff Out a chance to earn 7 extra votes for the city of your choice and a chance to win big prizes from PetSafe. Our first Sniff Out prize is worth $300. 15 winners are chosen from each Sniff Out in honor of our 15 finalist cities.

B4YP logoEnjoy more best moments with your pets – Every product that we make is designed to give pet owners more of the very best moments with their pets and ultimately keep more pets in loving, happy homes. When our consumers purchase our products, we are able to give a back to the pet community through dog parks and our work with rescues and shelters, which leads to more dog adoptions and fewer owner surrenders to shelters. We know that pet-lovers everywhere are excited to be a part of PetSafe brand. Together, we are making more best moments with our pets.

Stay tuned for more fun contests from PetSafe including one that will make your cats happy too. Thank you for joining us for Bark For Your Park, we hope you’ll stick around for more of the fun!


Before We Announce the Finalists….


B4YP logo

By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

We will be announcing the 2014 Bark for Your Park finalist communities this evening. Can you believe it is already time? We all still remember the early stages of planning, and just can’t believe how fast the contest is passing by so far! Our team is so excited to tell you who the finalists are, but you’ll have to wait just a few more hours. Is the anticipation building?

You can see the finalists announced on our website at 5pm ET this evening, or you can get a “leg up” on finding out the 15 finalists by tuning into our LIVE UStream broadcast at 3:00! We’ll be talking about the next phase of the contest, and then announcing the long-awaited community names.

If you’re just now hearing about the Bark for Your Park contest, find out some reasons why having a dog park can be a great addition to your community with our infographic.

B4YP1So far in the contest, we’ve seen some incredible efforts from so many communities. We have looked at several city pages to browse comments, and it was so much fun to check out what the city members had to say. Some participants would give a vote total each day to encourage other members of the community to sign-up and start voting. Others would upload pictures of dogs that would benefit from a new park. If your community does not happen to make it to the finals, one great way to gear up for next year is to look at the city pages of the finalist communities to see what kind of barking they did! And this doesn’t mean you have to stop participating this year. You can always help another community by voting for them to receive funding for a dog park.

Some communities started Facebook pages and Twitter pages, held events to rally more support and held town meetings to discuss having a dog park. Did your community do anything PAWsome this year? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment on this post, and let others see what your community members did.

We also wanted to bark a big THANK YOU to all of the participants so far in the contest. Not only have you nominated your cities to win money for dog parks, but you have raised awareness of why having a dog park is so great. Your barks have certainly been heard around the country, and we are absolutely blown away by the response thus far in the contest.

What’s next? Well, in a matter of hours we will begin to listen to all of the barking for the 15 finalist communities! The barking will continue through July 31st, and we will announce the winners of the 2014 Bark for Your Park contest on August 7th. So remember to watch our LIVE broadcast and BARK FOR YOUR PARK!


A New Place to Play


By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

This spring, my family and I got the opportunity to seek and find a new home. In a few short years, Buckley and I have gone to from 2 to 4 and added Kristopher and Finn to round out our family. Although we enjoyed a small condo near our jobs initially, we always wanted to give our dogs a yard.

We took a circuitous route to finding the perfect house and yard for us. We rented our condo and spent 6 months living in a friend’s house and helping clean and organize it. We spent a few short weeks with family and vacationed in the mountains; before we were able to unpack our suitcases in our current home, all with our pups tagging along.

Buckley and Finn receive personalized treats at Alexander's Cabin in Asheville, NC.

Buckley and Finn receive personalized treats at Alexander’s Cabin in Asheville, NC.

Moving is stressful and multiple moves can leave you feeling completely out of sorts. All along the winding road that would eventually lead us to our new home, I had a convenient constant tool that helped keep my dogs from stressing out too. We took our Stay+Play Wireless Fence® system with us from place to place throughout the journey. I would unplug the transmitter and head to our next spot, plug it back in and go out into the yard with the collars to check the new boundary. I would bring the dogs out and use praise, and then call them back toward me when they heard the beeping of the collars. Buckley and Finn are pretty practiced with a wireless fence and remote trainers, and each time they seemed excited to know they had freedom to enjoy their new space.

From the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina back to our beloved Knoxville, Tennessee; we made the most of our time, our freedom and the outdoors during our transition. It was a bit of an adventure in our lives and we fully embraced it. However, we were certainly ready to settle into our own space. Once again, I plugged in my Stay + Play fence, fully charged up the dog’s receiver collars, confirmed their boundaries and at long last, the pups were able to be dogs in their own yard.

Finn and Buckley look out over their new yard

Finn and Buckley look out over their new yard

We soon added a PetSafe® pet door, another pet tool my dogs have come to enjoy and expect. Before long, I would find Buckley and Finn sunning on their patio, watching birds, and chasing and wrestling each other. We all collectively stretched out in our new home all the way thinking up new adventures we will experience from here.

What adventures have PetSafe products helped you have with your pets?

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Top Gifts for Dad


By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

Having children is a great experience. An exhausting experience, but definitely a good one. Being a parent and a pet parent can be difficult to manage, but when you love your pets they are still a priority once you start a family. Normally I like to write about being a mom and managing a baby with two dogs, but I thought I’d go a different route this month in celebration of Father’s Day! Here are some great products to make life just a little easier on Dad:

1) Drinkwell® Everflow Indoor/Outdoor Fountain

This is a great product if you have a big dog that drinks a lot of water. It has a 1.5 gallon capacity so it is convenient for indoor use, or you can hook it up to a garden hose for easy refills outside.

2) Passport™ Pet Door

If you want to make letting the dog out easier, this is a great way to do it! You can program up to 20 pets, which means programming the time each pet can have access in and out of the door.

3) Stay + Play Wireless Fence®

This is one of my personal favorites. Setting this system up is very easy to do, and after the initial training period your dog can have his own space without a physical fence having to be present.

4) Elite Big Dog Static Remote Trainer

What’s better for Dad than a nice walk with the dog so he can get out of the house for a bit? How about a walk without a leash! We love to walk our dog while he is wearing this remote trainer collar, and we especially love to use it when we take him to the dog park. I’ve usually got the baby in the stroller, and my husband can communicate to our dog with the tone function. It’s so nice to just push a button and know that our dog knows we are calling him.

Artemis  Senior Squirrel Dude5) Busy Buddy® Squirrel Dude™

This low-maintenance toy is great for the strong chewers out there. It’s fun to watch your dog try to get the treats out of the toy that you placed in it, and it’s easy to clean when he’s done. We usually bring this toy to any place we bring the dogs, since we know they won’t chew it up and scatter the pieces all over the car.

To all of the dads out there, thank you for what you do!

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How to Socialize for the Dog Park


By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP

1Dog parks can be a wonderful place to allow your dog to play and explore off-leash in a safe environment. Once you have established the few important things below, you will be ready to begin socializing your dog to the environment at the dog park.



  • Your dog has all the appropriate immunizations. Check with your veterinarian.
  • Your dog is usually friendly around other animals. If your dog is shy, reactive or hasn’t been around other dogs you should consider a less overwhelming environment like a training class before checking out the dog park.
  • You are prepared to supervise and interact with your dog at all times while at the park. The dog park is the place to be focused on your dog, not on your cell phone.
  • Your dog has a good recall (come when called,) not just at home, so practice this before heading out anywhere your dog will be off-leash.

What is socialization and why is it important?

So you have determined your dog is a good candidate for the dog park environment and you are prepared to be a great dog park parent. Great, now let’s define socialization.

2Socialization is introducing the dog to novel environments, experiences, objects and others (be it dogs, men, women, children) AND making the introductions enjoyable and as stress free as possible so the dog develops good associations.

We often think of socialization for puppies as it is very important to their development into normal adult dogs. Well-socialized puppies develop far fewer behavior issues. Adult dogs can be socialized to new things with the same process. The important part is to keep the introductions slow and ensure the dog is enjoying the experience. If the dog begins to show signs of stress, anxiety, fear or reactivity slow down, pull back and return to an earlier point in the introduction.

The dog park is not just one thing. It is a new environment filled with new dogs, people, objects, smells, sounds and experiences. The best you can do for your dog is to scope out any dog parks in your area before bringing your dog along. Check the park out at times you are most likely to go. Things to look for:

Park Facilities and Management

  • Does the park have posted safety and conduct rules? Make note of these and whether those using the park are actually following the rules.
  • Does the park have separate areas for small dogs and larger dogs? While this doesn’t ensure safe dog-dog interactions it is definitely a good start.
  • Is the park well kept? It’s a dog park so there will be some dirt but the grass and other areas should be maintained, the fence should be secure, there should be waste stations and secure trash receptacles.
  • Does the park have any equipment or obstacles for agility or play? These should be well-maintained, low to the ground and easy to ensure the safety of all the dogs. Dogs not trained for these things can be injured.
  • Who manages the park? It could be the city, a private group or even volunteers. Check out any resources they have online.

People and Dogs

  • Are the pet parents supervising and interacting with their pets? If they are spending more time chatting with each other and texting they are not going to be able to control their dog if play gets too rambunctious. They should be monitoring their dog at all times.
  • Do all the dogs rush the gate when a new dog is entering? The pet parents should be encouraging their dogs to stay clear so others can enter safely.
  • Does the dog play look friendly? Dogs who are playing are loose, wiggly and bouncy.

Once you have found a good dog park, plan a short first trip. You may not even go inside the park the first time. Pick a time when the park is not too busy. Early mornings are usually good. Evenings and after 9 am on the weekends are usually swamped. Start by walking your dog on- leash outside of the park and let him check out all the sights, sounds and smells. If he approaches the fence calmly and looks happy to be there, feed him some treats. Careful with the treats as it’s safest not to take a bunch of treats into the park as some dogs may mob you or display guarding around the treats. Practice a few behaviors like sit or down. Practice approaching the gate calmly. If it is going well, take your dog in for quick off-leash lap around the inside of the park. Walk around with your dog. Talk to him, play and have fun. The dog park should always be fun for you and more importantly your dog. If at any time your dog seems, uncomfortable in the park or with any of the dogs or people you should leave. Even if it is going well, keep this first visit short, no more than 20 minutes. Next time you can plan to stay a little longer if your dog is enjoying himself.

As your dog interacts with the other dogs at the park pay close attention to the dogs he enjoys playing with and which ones he ignores, or runs away from. Just like we don’t like everyone we meet, your dog won’t like every dog he meets. Introduce yourself to the pet parents of the dogs your dog likes to engage with and find out when they visit the park. It’s a great way to ensure your dog has a good time and make some new friends. The best dog parks have a community of pet parents who are regulars and help watch out for each other’s dogs.

Every time you visit the dog park do a quick check before you go in the gate. Note any dogs, people, objects and sounds that may be new to your dog. Each trip will have a different set of variables and may present a socialization opportunity. Keep each interaction positive for your dog. Be prepared to leave or play away from some dogs if the situation is uncomfortable for your dog. With proper socialization your dog should become happy to play at the park with other well socialized dogs. That doesn’t mean he will get along with every dog especially if the other dog doesn’t have the best doggie manners. Not every dog enjoys the dog park and that’s OK. There are plenty of other options like agility, tricks, hiking, etc. that you can do with your dog.

While it’s great to practice some basic behaviors at the dog park, away from other dogs, and this can help build your dog’s confidence, I don’t recommend training new behaviors in midst of all the other dogs. Asking your dog to sit and stay while all the other dogs are sniffing his butt and in his face can be overwhelming and scary for any dog. If you need to get in some off-leash training head to the park very early and do it before everyone else starts arriving.

So take it slow, observe your dog’s comfort level and have fun!

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