Your pet, whether it is a dog or cat (yes, even inside cats), needs to be on flea prevention preferably all year round or at least until we get a good freeze. Fleas are everywhere in the environment; they are carried by domestic and wild animals including skunks, opossums, and feral cats that serve as little salt shakers full of fleas distributing the parasites as they cross your yard. If you or someone else walks through the grass and gets even one flea on your pant leg or shoe you will bring it into your house and the little guy will find your pet. Fido the dog goes outside but is protected by a product such as Frontline? If Fluffy the cat is indoors, any fleas that get a taste of Fido will abandon ship and move on over to the cat which is why even indoor pets need prevention if there is a source of exposure. Options for flea prevention that we have here at our clinic are Frontline and Advantage Multi; these once a month topical products are easy to use and safe for your pet.
If your pet is scratching and itching constantly at itself, certainly look for fleas right away. Fleas like to hang out right above the tail on the dog or cat where the fur is the thickest. Look for any black "dandruff" or actual fleas jumping and moving around. In addition to being irritating, fleas can even cause sores on your pet.
If your pet has fleas you need to treat the animal and any other animal you may have in your home and everywhere the animal has been. To get rid of a flea infestation it is important to remember that any adult fleas you see on your pet are only 1% of the total flea population - the rest are eggs and larvae in the environment (aka the sofa, dog bed, baseboards, and carpet). The best way to get rid of fleas is to...well, get rid of the fleas manually. Vacuuming your house twice daily for a week can really decrease the numbers of fleas - remember to empty the canister or change the bag as fleas will climb out making all your hard work go to waste! Chemical products such as Siphotrol are also a great way to manage problem areas like baseboards or large furniture, and all bedding where the animal sleeps should be thoroughly washed.
Call or stop in for more advice on getting rid of fleas or if you need to get started on prevention today!
By: Dana Hannahs, veterinary technician