Those Pesky Fleas!

The season for fleas is upon us!! Fleas can obviously be present all year long but when the warmer weather arrives our pets spend more time outside and mingle with other pets which means a higher risk of exposure. Here are some tips on how to spot and prevent fleas.

Spotting Fleas

It can be difficult to tell if your pet has fleas unless they have a ton. Those critters are fast and when the fur is touched they scurry away quickly so we can miss seeing them. It is much easier to look for flea dirt. Fleas poop a lot, so even if there are only a few fleas you are sure to find dirt. Flea dirt can feel gritty when petting your pet. It looks like dirt specks and is often comma shaped. To determine if it is in fact flea dirt place some of the specks onto a piece of paper towel. Wet your finger and touch the speck and smear it. If it leaves a blood streak it is flea dirt since they drink blood their poop is made up of blood.

If you find fleas on one of your pets, ALL of your pets need to be treated even if they don’t mingle. This includes pet ferrets and bunnies. Fleas jump far and fast and spread through the house quickly. Treatment is required 30 days after the initial treatment to break the life cycle. Fleas do not live on people but will occasionally bite people. I can stick my arm into a container of fleas and never get bitten but if my middle daughter is near one flea it somehow finds her!

Flea Symptoms

Fleas cause intense itchiness when they bite. Your pet then scratches, chews or licks their skin. This causes abrasions, inflammation and can introduce bacteria causing infectious dermatitis. Some animals are allergic to flea bites and may be affected more severely. In addition, when your pet turns to bite at the fleas they will inevitably ingest fleas and flea dirt.  Fleas can carry tapeworm and ingesting fleas may cause your pet to become infected.

Flea Prevention & Treatment

There are many great products for flea prevention and treatment.  If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or has the potential to mingle with other animal’s prevention is easier. The veterinary products for treatment work fast and are effective. No environmental pesticides are needed when using these products but it is helpful if you wash bedding and vacuum where fleas lay their eggs (cooler, dark, damp, low traffic areas like along baseboards, between couch cushions, and under rugs).

If your pet has not been examined by a veterinarian in the last year an exam is required before dispensing the required medication. Do not be tempted to buy an over-the-counter flea medication as these can be more harmful to your pet than to the actual flea.

If you would like more information on the flea product that is right for your pet please call us to book an appointment.