Let’s Talk Fleas

SouthPaw Animal Clinic

FleasWarm weather is definitely upon us and so are all of the bugs. Did you know that the parasites that affect our pets have been active for months now? That’s right! We have been seeing fleas, ticks and heartworm disease pretty regularly since late January. While all of the parasites are pretty busy this year, the fleas have been the subject of many phone calls and patient visits. So…let’s talk about fleas.

Where do fleas come from and how do they get on my pet and into my house? This is important. Fleas are everywhere outside. They live on wildlife and will be deposited into the environment anywhere that wildlife goes. If you have a pet…they are at risk. Indoor cat? Dog that “only goes out to go to the bathroom”? Doesn’t matter. If you have a living, breathing, pet…they can get fleas. Fleas will hitch a ride on anything that is warm in the environment (including YOU trusty human) and will then feed off of your pet as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The flea bite causes an itchy, local reaction for most individuals and in some, it can cause a severe reaction. Once they have taken a meal, female fleas will begin to lay eggs. Each female will lay approximately 50 eggs per day. These eggs fall into the environment, and along with the larva and pupa stages, and will not be on your pet. Only the adults are found on the pet and will constitute approximately 5% of the total flea population. Your pet will serve as the meal and host but these critters will take meals from you too if they are hungry enough and they will infest your house, so it is best to keep them out of the house and off your pets.

Okay…so now you know your pet can get fleas…how do you keep them off? Use a safe and effective product that is designed for the species and weight of your pet! There are tons of options available but the general consensus this year is that if you can buy it at the store, it isn’t killing the fleas and ticks. (This includes “all natural” remedies.) You may luck out and be in an area where the fleas and ticks are still dying with those products, but if you want a product that is veterinary recommended…talk to your veterinary team. They will be able to let you know what products are working the best for pets in your area this year. In my opinion, I would rather use something that works and keep the fleas out because trying to get rid of them once they are established is a long process!

How do you get rid of them if they are already established in your house? Have ALL of your pets in the household on a safe and effective monthly flea treatment. Do NOT split doses between pets or use dog products on cats. EVER. Treat your pets…all of them…monthly for at LEAST 3 months, however year round is the best way to prevent this from happening again in a month or two. You can wash all of your bedding and anything the pet sleeps on that can go in the wash with regular soap and a hot water setting. Vacuum the entire house daily and empty the vacuum into a plastic bag that you seal and get out of the house. This process, in addition to having all of your pets protected, will clear the environment but it can take a few weeks to a month to get it done. The more fleas in the environment, the longer this may take. If you are heavily infested or want a faster solution, you can bug bomb or call an exterminator.

Have other questions? Give your veterinarian a call!

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