How To Enjoy Spring & Summer Without The Pests

How To Enjoy Spring & Summer Without The Dog Pests

Spring is finally here, but so are the dog pests!

Doesn’t it just feel so good to be able to walk our pups and sit outside while enjoying the warm sun rays on our skin?

If only it weren’t for all those critters that range from irritating to life-threatening that Spring has in tow for us.

That said, I’ve found a few good work arounds for different dog pests and I’m about to list every last one of them.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

How to enjoy spring and summer without the dog pests

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

How To Enjoy Spring & Summer Without The Dog Pests!

First things first – the following are my favorite preventative approaches to avoid dog pests like ticks, fleas and mosquitoes:

(1) Avoid Tall Grassy Areas

Don’t walk your dog in tall grassy areas & brush in the woods because that’s where fleas and ticks like to hang out.

How tall grassy areas affect dogs during spring and summer

I always try my darnedest to steer clear of those tall grassy areas during spring and summer and walk Wally on paved trails instead.

That said, be mindful of how hot the pavement can get during the summer months!

If you have a yard, keep the grass trimmed and the landscape clean.

Shaded areas like dead leaves and large amounts of pine needles make for perfect breeding and hiding grounds for those little suckers. 

(2) Avoid Standing Waters

That’s where mosquitoes like to hang out and they’re the ones that carry heart worms, so yeah.

Also, don’t let your dog swim in standing waters because you never know what may be lurking in there.

Here in NC, there’s all sorts of water snakes and there’s no way I’m letting my pups swim in those ponds!

(3) Use Organic Insect Repellent Sprays On Yourself

Protect yourself with organic insect repellent spray that’s not harmful to your pets.

For example, Wondercide’s Insect Repellent or OFF! Botanicals Insect Repellent.

Wondercide’s Indoor Pest Control Spray is also great to use inside your home. It comes in Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Peppermint and Rosemary.

What I like about Wondercide’s products in general is that they’re plant based and cruelty-free!

(4) Use Natural Dog Pest Repellents On Your Dog(s)

Treat your pup with natural dog pest preventatives whenever possible. They’re so much more gentle on their body than chemical-based treatments like K9 Advantix, Frontline and similar products.

I personally ditched those harsh chemical dog pest preventatives back in 2015 when I switched my pups Missy & Buzz from kibble to raw dog food.

Natural products I’ve successfully used on my dogs against dog pests are the following:

I had also used Dr. Harvey’s Herbal Protection Spray and Anicura’s Organic Insect Repellent, but unfortunately both products aren’t available anymore.

I also learned about the dog pest preventing benefits of fresh garlic! Yes, garlic, and no, it’s not toxic to dogs when it’s fed a certain way.

You can find out more in my blog post below, including how much garlic to give your dog for fleas:

Myth Buster: Garlic IS Good For Dogs, After all!

A Word About Heartworms

Heartworm larvae are transmitted by mosquitoes. 

Once the larvae have matured, they take up residence in the host’s heart and/or lungs, causing a potentially fatal infection. However, this typically only happens in dogs with poor immune systems.

Now that heartworms are becoming more resistant to heartworm meds like Heartguard, heartworms can live inside a host for several years.

According to holistic vets, they typically only do harm in dogs with weak immune systems, but not in those with strong immune systems.

Dogs Naturally Magazine has a great article on natural heartworm prevention without pills here.

Heartworm-specific symptoms include breathing difficulties, fatigue, coughing, and wheezing.

Tip: Your best bet for keeping heartworms away from your pup is boosting his immune system by feeding a healthy, natural, species-appropriate raw diet. 

Side-note: Herding breeds generally don’t tolerate certain anti-parasitical drugs which contain the ingredient Ivermectin (such as Australian Shepherds & Collies).

Ivermectin is found in Heartguard, Ivomec, Zimectrin, Iverhart, Tri-Heart, as well as in several generic medications. Consult your (holistic) veterinarian about different alternatives.

Dog Pest Prevention Inside Your Home

Most companion dogs spend the majority of their time inside their homes, making this environment an extremely important one on the dog pest prevention-to-do list!

Regular Vacuuming

As far as the interior of your house is concerned: if you have carpets, vacuuming on a regular basis is key to staying on top of flea & lice prevention. 

Change out your vacuum bag regularly, or empty and wash out your bag-less vacuum filter frequently if you have one.

You don’t want the minuscule suckers crawling back out of their vacuum prison, right? 

Washing Dog Bedding

Wash all dog bedding on a regular, weekly basis.

This includes their dog bed covers. They usually come off and are machine-washable; dry them on a low setting in the dryer or better yet, let them air-dry.

I found out the hard way that they have a tendency to shrink if you toss them into the dryer.

I also wash all doggie blankets that I use to protect furniture such as couches or beds.

If you don’t use any protective covers or blankets, include those areas in your vacuum chores. I vacuum every other day, and sometimes even every day when the pups are shedding.

We use a bag-less vacuum cleaner with a filter that gets washed out in the tub with warm, soapy water once a week. 

Some may refer to me as a bit of a clean-freak, but I call it smart prevention 🙂

Bathing Your Pup

Speaking of tubs: Obviously your dog’s grooming needs will depend on her breed, but all dogs benefit from regular bath time.

However, be careful not to overdo it, as too much washing will rid the coat of its natural oils and make it look dull.

Be Prepared For Dog Pest Related Emergencies

Know what to do in a case of an emergency!

This includes performing first-aid for allergic reactions and who to call. For example, your vet during normal business hours, an emergency vet number / animal hospital for after hour emergencies. 

Keep those numbers handy! You can have them on speed dial in your phone, put them on your fridge, and apply them to your doggie first aid kit.

What's in your pet first aid kit for dogs?

Dog First Aid Kit

Have a first-aid kit readily available (preferably one in your house and one in your car). I strongly recommend keeping Benadry readily available in case of allergic reactions to certain insect bites.

It helped us when Missy once had a case of hives on a weekend (of course). I have NO idea what could have caused it, it must have been something she encountered on our walk.

She weighs a little over 50 lbs, so I stuck to the 1-mg-per-lb-of-dog formula and gave her 2 pills of Benadryl (1 pill = 25 mg) every 6 hours for 2 days. It cured her of the hives and relieved the itching.

Missy with a case of hives

Most Common Dog Pests Found In The Continental USA

Lice

Canine Lice are different from human lice and each respective species cannot be transmitted between hosts. They’re almost motionless, small, look like dirt, and there’s the biting & sucking blood kind.

They’re rare on well-groomed, healthy dogs (healthy diet & clean dog are key!) and are easy to treat with specific bug-killing dog shampoos.

Fleas

Fleas are tiny, fast moving, and can jump 15 times their size.

They feed on blood, cause itching red bumps, skin infections and reproduce fast. That said, they only live for 100 days, but have 400-500 offspring within that time frame.

They can also transmit dog tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) & cause anemia. 

Treat flea infestations with a thorough vacuuming job in combination with carpet powders that kill the remaining flea population. 

Wash all dog bedding on the hot cycle (or throw it out altogether), and treat all areas Fido has access to with an indoor dog pest control spray.

Put your pup in a tub, and use a dog flea comb to pick up fleas from your dog’s skin (let them drown in the bathwater).

Additionally, use a flea dog shampoo to get rid of adult fleas and larvae.

Ticks

Ticks bite and suck blood and fall off of their host when they’re fully engorged (they look like jelly beans by that time).

They can transmit Lyme disease & Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis (infection of the white blood cells) and Babesiosis (infection of the red blood cells). 

Ticks can also cause anemia and paralysis.

Common types are the:

  • American Deer Tick (only found in North America)
  • Brown Dog Tick
  • Lone Star Tick
  • American Dog Tick 

Ticks need to be carefully removed as soon as possible. When you do, make sure that the head is pulled out along with the rest of the body.

Don’t touch the tick with your bare hands, and use tweezers or a specific tick removing tool. I found a good one called Tick Twister.

Tick Removed From GSP With The O'Tom Tick Twister®
Removing a line star tick from my GSP dog walking client with the Tick Twister

Treat the tick site on your dog with a topical antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin.

Whenever you come back from a hike or walk with your pup, check him (and yourself) for ticks.

Some ticks aren’t active in fall and winter, but the American Deer Tick is active as long as the temperatures are above freezing

Fire Ants

Fire Ants bite and sting.

They’re found in the southern part of the US, including our state of NC, sigh. They build  mound nests with irregular forms. I’ve seen a lot of crescent-formed ones here in NC. 

Their sting is painful and can be alleviated with the antihistamine Benadryl.

Dogs can have 1 mg of Benadryl for every pound of body weight.

Stinging Insects

Stinging, flying insects such as Bees, Wasps, Yellowjackets, Hornets, Mosquitoes. 

If your dog gets stung and the stinger remains in the skin, scrape it out with a stiff object, such as a credit card or a piece of cardboard. Not removing it can cause more venom to be pumped into the wound.

Treat any swelling with a cold pack placed on top of a wet cloth (frozen vegetable bag works too); a swelling inside the mouth can be treated with an icecube. 

You can also give your dog the antihistamine Benadryl to bring down the swelling every 6-8 hours.

Remember, the dosage is 1 mg for each lb of body weight. Benadryl usually comes in pills containing 25 mg, so you would administer 2 pills to a 50 lb dog. 

In case of anaphylactic shock (collapse), take your dog to a vet immediately!

Poisonous Snakes

(Poisonous) spiders & snakes bite, which can be painful and relieved with ice on the puncture.

Deadly bites need to be treated by a vet and may require an anti-venom injection, antibiotic, and/or intravenous pain medication. 

If you suspect that your dog got bitten by a deadly spider or snake, it’s important to keep your dog as still as possible. This prevents spreading more venom.

Also apply ice to the wound after you washed it with COLD water and soap.

Carry him to the car if possible and get him to the vet right away! If it will take you up to an hour to get to the vet, place a tight bandage between the wounded area and the heart to slow the spread of the venom.

Poisonous Spiders

Poisonous spiders include the:

  • Widow Spiders (southern, western, & northern widow, black & shiny, and brown widows)
  • Brown Spiders (brown recluse is the most common one, although there are about 10 species)
  • Tarantulas (large & hairy)

Elapid (venomous) snakes include the Pit Vipers who strike and immediately let go (rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins). The latter are also known as cottonmouths due to the white interior of their mouth.

Coral Snakes have a colored banding, and bite and hang on (Eastern, Texas, and Arizona Coral Snake).

How To Enjoy Spring & Summer Without The Dog Pests: Bottom Line

As for so many other reasons, having a healthy doggie immune system is also key in preventing dog pests.

Healthy dogs are much less prone to attracting parasites who prefer a weak host.

Keep your dog well fed on a healthy, minimally processed diet, provide regular exercise, and monitor her stomping grounds.

How do you and your pup(s) tackle pests? We’d love to hear from you in our comment section!

Related Reading:

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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22 responses to “How To Enjoy Spring & Summer Without The Dog Pests”

  1. DZ Dogs Avatar

    Great post!! Dante got hives once, freaked me out! He was fine, we visited a friend and then BOOM hives! All over his poor body! And of course on a sunday when our vet is closed. I gave him benadryl and then called the vet in the morning and thankfully it just went away on it’s own.
    We’ve been researching natural flea repellents….do you have any suggestions? I like the idea of getting away from the poison if possible. Ziva is so light haired we would know in an instant if we had fleas, our cats are indoors and I can see Dante’s belly – so again we’d notice. But so far i’m not convinced most of the herbal stuff would do any good. *still in the research phase…*

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, DZ Dogs! I can relate to your feeling of freaking out over the hives!!
      Ever since Missy had hives, benadryl has become an essential part of our First Aid Kits at home AND in the car.
      Unfortunately, I don’t have any suggestions regarding natural flea repellents…I could use some as well. Ideally, I’d also like to get away from the chemical treatments ~ I do remember hearing from someone who was using natural repellents only & got a severe case of flea infestation. I DO want to avoid that at all cost!!

      1. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
        Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

        We tried a flea and tick tag from Only Natural Pet for one of our dogs last summer. It did seem to work. We found ticks on the other dogs but not on the dog that had the tag on. This year we’re trying it on all of them. I’m not totally convinced though so we’ll use a spray sometimes as well.

          1. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
            Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

            Yes, that’s the one.

  2. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
    Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    This is all such great advice! Ticks are our biggest problem here. I hate using chemicals on the dogs, so we do try all natural alternatives. Since we spend most of our time playing in the yard, last year we learned about doing the yard cleanup (and we also treat the yard with Cedar Oil), and that really helped a lot. We’ll be keeping right on top of it as soon as our snow melts this year!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you 🙂 We have a lot of ticks here, too..I hadn’t heard of Cedar Oil ~ that seems to be an interesting idea. So how do you use it in the yard?

      1. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
        Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

        You mix it with water and spray it around. We applied it along our fence line (we’re surrounded by woods and we also cleared an area about 3 feet out from the fence), and then in the shady areas like under the trees, bushes, and deck (for fleas).

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          HA! That’s a phenomenal idea ~ I will SO try it! Thank you for sharing it!

          1. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
            Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

            You’re welcome! Cedarcide is the brand we used. You can find it on amazon and other places, I don’t remember where we actually ended up getting it. Two of the dogs had fleas the year before, and the ticks were bad, so I did a TON of research trying to find solutions! We actually had a landscaper come and he recommended it. It’s safe for people, pets, and plants. Plus it deters other insects as well.

          2. DZ Dogs Avatar

            Thank you!! I’ll look into this too!

          3. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

            Wonderful! We just purchased our first own home, and our main contractor recommended a pest guy who doesn’t use pet friendly products at all ~ so we’re not going with him. W e might just take matters into our hands, or try to find a pest control person who uses pet-friendly products.

          4. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
            Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

            I called the landscaper because they advertised being eco-friendly. The guy was so nice and didn’t even try to sell us his services…he just advised us on how to do it ourselves! I’m sure that saved us a lot of money, though I have to keep after my hubby to get things done!

          5. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

            Nice! I’m sure you did save a few $$$ going the DIY route 🙂 We’re all for doing it ourselves whenever possible. I do hear you on the hubby part of the equation… ~grin~

  3. Elaine Avatar

    What a great list! I really liked your tip about having Benadryl handy. Haley has had several allergic reactions, including one that happened in a remote location at a beach when Haley got into some yellow jackets that were nesting in the ground. It was really nice to have the Benadryl with us so we could give it to her right away. This is a great reference list for dog owners!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you so much, Elaine! Phew, so good for you & Haley that you had the Benedryl on you!! We haven’t taken our pups to the beach yet, but it is on our to-do list for this year ~ thank you for the tip of watching out for potential insects in the ground they could dig up!

  4. Playful Kitty Avatar

    Great tips! Parasites can be such a pain for both cats and dogs. They seem to come out of nowhere sometimes! One little thing that I would add to the discussion is to think twice before purchasing and over-the-counter flea or tick preventative. Some of those have been causing dangerous toxicities in pets (others are just plain ineffective). It is worth a the few extra bucks to visit the veterinarian and get the real deal. Excellent explanation of everything.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, Playful Kitty 🙂 That’s a good thought about checking in with your vet & getting their advice.

  5. Hawk aka BrownDog Avatar

    Hi Y’all!

    We have problems with gators and various water snakes.

    Being a retriever my instinct is to go into the water…and I live on the water in the low country. My Human still does training to remind me never to go into the water unless she sends me on a retrieve.

    When we go into the high country I have to be careful around the creeks because of copperhead snakes.

    My Humans have the lawns sprayed twice a year for fire ants. They are a nightmare and can build sand mountains a foot tall where not treated.

    My Humans switched to oral flea, heartworm and tick meds this year. She buys directly from the vet and I remain on the flea heartworm year round and start the tick med a month before heading into the high country.

    Thanks for a great and informative article.

    Y’all come on back,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Oh gosh, yes, you’re surrounded by those critters…thankfully we don’t have to deal with gators. Your human does a very smart thing with your water training!! Snakes are also present in NC, although I have yet to encounter one ~ not too crazy on actually meeting one, either.

      Our new neighborhood has a good size pond for the residents, and my first thought was “yay, great, the pups will be able to go swimming here”. My next thought was “oh…no. Wait a minute ~ aren’t there potential water snakes in the water?” So no-go on potential puppy swimming adventures around the corner. Sigh.

      I recently saw an oral flea, heartworm and tick preventative at our vet’s office as well. I’ve been thinking about whether or not to give it a try. Has it been working well for you?

      Thanks for stopping by today, Hawk!

  6. M. K. Clinton Avatar

    I am looking so forward to the spring and summer months until I remember the mosquitoes, snakes, and other creeping things that go with it. Oh and the 100+ temperatures. Remind me why I am looking forward to it again.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      😉 I think it might be human nature to want whatever is currently unavailable…I know I have been longing for warmer temperatures, but also know that it will be hard to exercise the pups during the humidity & heat of the summer months. Sigh ~ we actually got two hard plastic kiddie pools for the pups today, so those will come in handy soon.

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