Fleas. Just the word makes your skin crawl. And while I know it’s uncomfortable, it’s time to talk about fleas because the warm weather brings these nuisance bugs out in force. Read this quick Q&A for the topline on protecting your pet.
Q. Is there just one kind of flea?
A. No. There are more than 2000 types of fleas. The most common type of flea in North America is the “cat flea” – it loves dogs and cats. Fleas are hearty too, they can reproduce rapidly and some can live as long as 12 months.
Q. Are fleas dangerous?
A. Some pets just suffer itching and discomfort when they have fleas. Others are actually allergic to flea bites and can have a severe skin reaction called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Fleas also can transmit tapeworm. Anemia is another issue for some pets with large infestations because one flea can consume up to 15 times its body weight in blood.
Q. When is flea season?
A. Fleas like warm, humid environments so spring and summer are prime flea season throughout much of the U.S. In the bottom tier of states, fleas are a year-round problem.
Q. How can you tell if your pet has fleas?
A. If you see these signs, check your pet for fleas carefully.
- Excessive itching, scratching and biting skin
- Small, quickly moving brown bugs on the pet’s body
- “Flea dirt” or flea droppings on the skin
- Scabs and hot spots
- Hair loss
Note: some pets can have fleas but not itch or scratch. If you see flea dirt or strange residue on your pet’s skin or coat, check for fleas.
Q. How can I protect my pet from fleas?
A. The market is full of effective flea preventatives. There are specific flea prevention and treatment products for dogs and for cats. You should not use canine flea control products on cats and vice versa. Some canine flea control products are lethal to cats.
Start by talking with your pet’s veterinarian who will recommend the best flea control program for your pet and your environment. Some preventatives are available over-the-counter, others require a prescription. There are oral, topical, and collar options – many are applied to your pet just monthly. Once you have a plan, stick with it to give your pet the best protection.
Q. How do you get rid of fleas on your pet?
A. Shampoos, sprays, and dips are available to treat pets that already have fleas. Again, talk to your veterinarian who can suggest the best remedy based on the severity of the situation and your pet’s condition.
Q. What do you do if you have fleas in your house?
A. Unfortunately, if your pet has fleas, there’s a good chance your house does too. Fleas can easily jump from one host to another and their eggs drop off your pet’s body on to your carpeting, couch, and bedding. If you have fleas in your home, clean your home thoroughly including all bedding, rugs, carpets, and upholstery. If you have a severe infestation, talk to your local pest control professional about a fogger or spray.
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Thanks for reading and good luck!