Flea Infestations and Treatments: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are fleas interested in my furry friends?
A: Fleas are heat seekers and hiders. They just love a warm body like a dog or cat, whose body temperature is usually at least a couple of degrees higher than their humans. They also enjoy the much thicker coats that pets have – a lot more places for them to sneak away without being seen.
Q: Aside from the fact that it’s just gross to be covered in bugs, why do I need to protect my pet from flea bites and infestations?
A: Fleas survive on dogs, cats, and other mammals by biting them and taking a blood meal. We have observed some animals that seem nearly unaffected by the presence of fleas, but others that have been so severely bitten by them that it has made the animal anemic! The bites can instigate itchy, painful rashes at the least, and in worst case scenarios can affect the whole body by way of an allergic reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which can create uncomfortable all-over inflammation, itchiness, lesions, and hair loss. Additionally, fleas can carry parasites like tapeworm that are easily transmitted to dogs and cats.
Q: Why are fleas such nasty little buggers when it comes to controlling them in my house and near my pet?
A: Fleas can rapidly get out of control in your home. Undisturbed and without a blood meal, a flea can still survive more than one hundred days. On average, an individual can live two to three months. A single female can produce more than two thousand eggs in a lifetime, so their population can grow exponentially rather quickly if the conditions are right.
Q: What is the best way to prevent fleas from shacking up in my pet’s coat?
A: Flea combs and baths simply do not work for prevention or extermination of fleas. Although regular bathing and checking of your pet for parasites like fleas and ticks is the responsible thing to do, these insects are hardy and require a little extra effort to stop them in their tracks. It is generally easy to prevent fleas on your pet with a monthly topical treatment, such as Frontline Plus, or an oral treatment, such as Nexgard. Leach Animal Hospital recommends the use of these products all year long rather than just in the “warm season”, since weather can be unpredictable and fleas can easily make their way into your home and take up space in linens, dog beds, cracks of the floor, and other hiding spots until you turn the heat on and their population flourishes! Coupled with monthly prevention on your pet, it is best to concurrently treat your home for the presence of fleas to eliminate eggs and larvae that live fleas may have shed while living on your pet. Home treatments can range from simply vacuuming and washing linens in hot water, to floor-level flea bombs. Speak with one of our vets or technicians to decide on the best method of flea removal if you know your pet has fleas.