It’s that time of year again folks…flea season! Fleas are everywhere, year round, however, the most “active” months are during the warmer months – Early Spring to Late Fall.
For the sake of your sanity AND wallet, it’s much cheaper and easier to prevent fleas than it is to treat them once you have them.
There are many preventative treatments on the market – the most reliable and safest being the drug-regulated ones that are sold in your Veterinary Hospital. They come in topical application or oral tablet formulas.
Just because your pet doesn’t leave the house or yard, do NOT think that s/he is immune to fleas. Fleas are opportunists and will hitch the nearest ride to get to your pet. That could be you! It could be as simple as you having coffee at your best friend’s house – a flea jumps into your shoe or hair and you transport it home to your own pet.
One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day so you can see how ONE flea can easily turn into a heavy infestation. Fleas live in the environment (your home). They jump onto your pet to feed (blood) and lay eggs. As your pet runs through the house (on your bed/furniture..ackkk!), he deposits the eggs. The eggs hatch in the environment and the adult flea jumps back onto your pet, starting the cycle all over again.
Some pets (especially cats) have a hypersensitivity to flea bites (from the proteins in the flea’s saliva that are injected into your pet when it bites). These pets will often go into a scratching frenzy – the skin will welt, become red, inflamed and rashy, hair loss, crusty lesions, open sores – all of which can lead to a bacterial infection of the skin that will require antibiotics to treat. These pets do best with a topical flea preventive that kills the adult flea on contact (BEFORE it has a chance to bite).
ALL pets in the home must be treated (all it takes is ONE untreated pet..even a pet rat or rabbit) to keep the cycle going.
Humans are not immune to flea bites either. The IDEAL flea host is your pet; however, a hungry or newly-emerged flea youngster will have no qualms about tasting you too!
Flea baths are a temporary fix – this will kill any adult flea currently on the pet; however, there is no residual effect, meaning the moment you place your pet back onto the floor, the fleas will jump back on. Flea baths are recommended for pets with a heavy infestation or hypersensitive pets, to give immediate relief, prior to using a topical treatment or oral tablet.
There are home sprays available, however, unless it is a reliable Veterinary product CAUTION is advised. Many of these products contain chemicals that are lethal to cats (Permethrins), not to mention the health risk to your home/family/environment. If your pet is on a good quality flea prevention or treatment, s/he will do the work for you. Therefore, unless a heavy infestation is present, home sprays are generally not needed.
CAUTION is also advised when using over-the-counter products sold outside of vet clinics. Many of these products also contain chemicals that are toxic to cats. Every year, cats in Veterinary clinics die due to careless use of these products. . It is critical that you read the ENTIRE package AND instructions very carefully before proceeding with these products.
So, with all this in mind, have a very safe and flea-free season everyone!