Parasite-Proofing Your Home, by Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM

IMG_1017We hate to say it . . . however, chances are, if you find a tick or flea on your pet, the likelihood of them being in your home is quite large. In this case, simply treating your pet won’t rid the problem entirely, because you risk re-infestation until pests are fully eradicated.Here are some helpful tips to avoid critter infestations this summer and fall.


  • Yes, it is a good idea to do this every day to remove eggs, larvae and adult insects. Vacuuming is one of the easiest ways to prevent tick and flea infestations in your house.
  • Be sure to vacuum everything: carpets, inside couches and under chair cushions, carpet runners, bath mats and along baseboards!

Steam Clean Carpets

  • The hot steam and soap kill fleas in all stages of the life cycle.
  • Steam clean extra carefully where pets sleep.

Flea and Tick Topical and Oral Preventatives

  • Protect pets from fleas and ticks with oral or topical flea and tick treatments. Ask your veterinarian which he or she prefers.
  • Always be sure to carefully follow the instructions when using tick and flea protective products.
  • Set a reminder to administer flea and tick treatment on a schedule year-round.

Buy Products Treated with Permethrin

  • Consider the purchase of pet beds, bandanas, car seat covers, blankets and more that are treated with permethrin.
  • If your pet bedding is not treated be sure to wash it regularly (also your family bedding on which pets lie.) Wash in hot, soapy water often (at least every 2 weeks).
  • If an infestation is severe, discard old pet bedding and replace it with fresh, clean material.

Create Tick-Safe Zones in Landscaping

Modify your landscape to create Tick-Safe Zones. You can make your yard less attractive to ticks depending on how you landscape. Here are some simple landscaping techniques that can help reduce tick populations:

  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents and, therefore, ticks that feed on rodents).
  • Place playground equipment, decks, and patios in the sunniest locations on the property away from yard edges and trees.
  • Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

(Tips courtesy of the Center for Disease Control)

Check Pets for Ticks and Fleas

  • Comb: Some adult ticks can be visible to the naked eye, but others can be as small as a poppy seed! So although you might be able to find some on pets with shorter hair, tick detection is that much harder on long-haired animals. Use a comb to help in this case, combing along your pet’s belly and back.
  • Tick Mats: When checking for fleas and ticks, it helps to put them on a white sheet, towel or mat to see if any fall off.
  • Removal: If you find fleas or ticks, immediately get dispose of them in soapy water you should have nearby, at-the-ready!

Veterinarian. Mom. Advocate.

Dr. Nelson is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, Virgina, as well as the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington, DC’s News Channel 8. The show airs at 11am on Saturday mornings. She’s also known as “Dr. Pawz” on Washington DC’s All News Radio Station, WTOP. Read her blog on WTOP Living every Wednesday morning, catch her live in-studio show every other Thursday at 12:20 pm, talking about timely topics for your pets. You can also find her reporting on animal health topics for WJLA ABC 7.

Dr. Katy is the medical director of pet health for Live In The Now, a leading nutrition and lifestyle company that relies on the latest clinical research to guide them in their efforts to help people and pets to live longer, better lives. You can also read “Ask Dr. Katy” quarterly in the Virginia-Maryland Dog Magazine, or online.

Dr. Nelson is passionate about health and fitness, and she strives to help dogs and cats to live the longest, fullest lives that they can lead by staying fit and trim. Along with Steve Pelletier from SlimDoggy and Krista Wickens from DogTread, she is a founding partner of, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs. A lover of fashion and beauty, she envisions a world where all products are cruelty free, not tested on animals, made in a sustainable manner, and free of harsh chemicals that are unsafe not only for us, but for our pets. She is also a passionate advocate for pet rescue and pit bull-type dogs, and speaks ardently on the subjects in many different forums.

Dr. Nelson is a Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ), accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ). She is the former President of the District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine, the oldest and largest veterinary continuing education society in the United States. She is a reporter for Veterinary News Network and a weekly guest on Washington, DC’s News Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live. Through her consulting business, KJN Veterinary Consulting, Dr. Nelson has served as a valuable source to reporters around the country for the past five years, and has served as a marketing consultant for various pet-related corporations.

Through her production company, Sit. Good Girl Productions, LLC, Dr. Nelson creates original programming for network television. A partnership with Emmy Award-winning producer Judy Plavnick, Dr. Nelson and Judy are committed to producing educational and entertaining film, that you can’t look away from. Their first documentary, telling the story of the building of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, Connecticut, is currently in production and will air upon completion.


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