Foxtails, Fleas, Mosquitos, Ticks…finding extra pests on your pooch?  How to keep your BFF (Best Furry Friend) pest free during Shelter in Place.

New Normal

Yes, this is our life now… “shelter in place” and only going out for “essentials” and keeping a “social distance of six feet”.  Fun terminology that was all to foreign to us as recent as a month ago.   Although we are now confined to the comforts of our home, everyone is still allowed to go out for some much needed fresh air.  Dogs across the world now are no longer left at home for hours, while owners are at work; and pets getting extra scratches, love and outdoor time.  Also shelters adoptions are up, pets are being fostered and people are out finding new trails and exploring outdoor space around their homes/neighborhoods.

flea vs tick

Lurking Pests

But as people head for the trails (and hopefully being responsible 6ft distances and not overcrowding) the grasses are growing and pests are hatching.  It’s springtime!  And with spring comes ticks, fleas, mosquitos and the blooming of the ultimate enemy…the Foxtail!  There’s no time like the present to make sure your pooch is protected against all pests.  Flea/Tick control is a necessity for their health and yours.  Who would want to survive Covid-19 only then to get Lyme disease!

Know your facts:

  • Fleas can lay 40 eggs per day!
  • Heartworm can affect your dog with One Bite by an infected mosquito
  • Ticks can carry many diseases that can affect both humans and dogs
  • Foxtails can cause abscesses, pain, swelling and death


Fleas and Ticks are hatching in large numbers this time of year, so make sure you have proper flea/tick control on all pets!  Check your pets regularly for ticks and fleas and make sure there is no evidence of them in ears or body and that your control is doing it’s job properly.  Ask your veterinarian for recommended flea/tick control.  There are options for chewable, collars and ointments…but each have their own benefits and affect each pet differently. So it’s important to find what works for you and your BFF.

Mosquitos carry the heartworm virus and can infect your dog with one infected bite.  Heartworm is everywhere there are mosquitos and it is very important to keep a monthly Heartworm medication in your dog’s system.  Ask your veterinarian for the proper Heartworm prescription medication.

picture of foxtail weed


These pesky weeds are everywhere!  Blooming out in Spring, drying up by Summer and poking into everything and everywhere!  Always trim fur around paws on longer haired dogs/cats.  Keep your canine friend on leash through tall brush/weeds to minimize their exposure into foxtail city.  After a walk/hike, check your pets paws, face, ears for any evidence of foxtails and remove immediately.  Foxtails can be in ears, nostrils, skin and cause horrible damage to your pet by working themselves through the whole body.  If you hear your dog or cat sneezing constantly or shaking head, check immediately for foxtails and/or call your vet for a check up!

And we can’t forget RATTLESNAKES (depending on region)

Our little slimy Rattlesnake friends who come out from April through October seem to be in higher numbers in recent years.  With California fires and rains chasing them out of mountains into our friendly neighborhoods.  Be on the look out constantly!  Walks in mornings are always a good idea and not in the heat of day or late evening when our slithery friends are out “sunning themselves”.  Keep your dog on leash in open spaces to minimize the sniffing of gopher/snake holes and running through brush where they can stir up snakes, getting them ready to strike.  Also, speak to your veterinarian about the Rattlesnake Vaccine for your canine.  It’s a two series shot that creates antibodies in your dog to help neutralize the venom.  It can help with pain, swelling and supposedly slows down the venom in your dog.  It won’t cause immunity but it can give you more time to get your friend to the vet– it could save their life!

6ft Away

But most importantly…during the COVID-19 outbreak and our shelter in place ordinance, please be respectful and thoughtful.  This is a time to stop the spread.  Yes, your BFF needs a walk, but choose wisely.  Early mornings when less people are out, pick locations near home that are not overcrowded and if you see another friendly face on that trail— step to the side, make a distance of 6-10ft and smile and wave.   Just because we have to stay away doesn’t mean you can’t smile!  We are all in this together…we will get through this!  For now, enjoy the warmer days and the fresh air…and protect your pets against those nasty critters!!

More on keeping your pet safe in the warm months…read here.

picture of christine johnson author