We are new dog owners. So far this year, we haven’t seen any fleas but know that spring and summer seem to be peak “flea-season.” How can we be prepared for dealing with fleas on our pet and in our home?
Fearful of Fleas in Forest West
Dear Fearful of Fleas,
The best piece of advice that I can offer you on flea prevention is to stop a flea problem before it has a chance to begin. Controlling fleas is a multi-step process and often involves assistance from your veterinarian, especially in severe cases. For every flea an owner finds on their pet, it is likely that many other immature flea life stages, such as eggs, larvae, and cocoons, are occuring in the pet owner’s home and yard. Thus, an efficient flea treatment and prevention plan includes caring for both the pet and the pet’s environment. However, it is important to note that no flea treatment plan shows immediate results, so it is important for pet owners to be patient and continue routine care for flea prevention.
Out of Sight But Not Out of Mind (Or the Carpet!)
Dr. Adam Patterson, clinical assistant professor and chief of dermatology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains the importance of treating both pets and their environment for fleas.
“The adult fleas owners see on their pet is just the tip of the iceberg, as those fleas come from immature and unseen flea life stages in the carpet, area rugs, upholstery, dog beds, and shady places outdoors,” Patterson said. “Depending on environmental conditions, it may take a couple of weeks to months for all of the eggs to hatch, so if you don’t keep regularly administering flea prevention to all fur-bearing animals in your home, you are giving fleas an opportunity to come right back on your pet.”
Make Hospitable Flea Environments Inhospitable
Hopefully you can stay ahead of a flea infestation with flea treatments for your pet (more on that below), but in the event that the fleas take over, owners can treat their homes and yards in simple ways. For an indoor environment, vacuum thoroughly below drapes, under furniture, and where the pet sleeps. Be sure to remove and discard the vacuum waste bag after every use until the flea infestation is resolved. Washing the pet’s bedding on a weekly basis can also help in flea prevention. Controlling fleas in the great outdoors includes disturbing flea habitats to prevent adult fleas from developing. To do this, veterinarians recommended targeting the moist, warm, and shady areas in the yard where there is organic debris, such as leaves. Fleas also populate in areas where pets spend much of their time, such as under patios, porches, and outdoor kennels. Disturb these breeding ground areas by raking, sweeping, and applying an insecticide.
Choose The Flea Treatment That Is Right For Your Pet
There are many flea control products for pets on the market, including flea collars, once-a-month topical spot-on treatments, and oral tablets. Patterson suggests that pet owners consult their veterinarian in choosing the most effective flea treatment for their furry friend, as treatment for the pet is the most important step in good flea control.
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Pet of the Week
Meet Brandie. This sweet girl is a little over a year old and lived on the streets for much of her life. Luckily, this blended calico, front-paw declawed gal was rescued and had the good fortune of landing in a foster home where she is awaiting her fresh start. Brandie is a friendly and independent stunner who would do wonderfully in a home with warm laps and gentle hands–could that be your home? To learn more, go to www.saveacatrescue.org.