Itchy scratchy pet? Fleas are one of the first things you wonder about but what is a flea and how do pets get them?
Fleas are the most common parasite found on animals, including your pets. They will bite dogs, cats even humans! Lucky for us humans, we don’t taste so good and they will generally go search for a tastier meal, but they do have to taste you first. Ugh!
They enjoy cools shady places, just like you and your dog do during the hot summer months. They eat blood like an infestation of a billion small vampires chewing on your pet. They jump extremely well and will leap onto your pet to feed and reproduce. Fleas are flat, pretty much just like the one-dimensional picture above, so they can move easily through your pet’s fur.
So What? It’s just a bug.
Did you know fleas can carry tapeworms? I didn’t, but kids have gotten tapeworms from fleas. Cat’s have gotten tapeworms from ingesting adult fleas while grooming their fur.
Oh, and they can carry diseases like the bubonic plague! Yes, the Black Plague that was transferred to people by the poor rats that were infested with fleas.
They can be hard to spot, since they are about about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. In fact it’s their poop (flea dirt) that usually gives them away. If your pet seems to have black dirt all over its skin and is scratching a lot, they might have fleas. Go to your veterinarian for assistance anytime you pet has prolonged or excessive chewing or scratching. There are lots of things that cause these things and all of them are annoying and painful to your pet but flea dirt is specific to this little pest.
If you were to put some flea dirt on a slightly damp paper towel, it would shortly turn red or rust colored due to the digested blood. At the veterinary clinic, we just look at them under the microscope for diagnosis. Then we can recommend the perfect medication for your pet.
Getting Rid of Fleas:
The prevention will kill off all the adult fleas on your pet and prevent further infestations. Unfortunately, you have to do a bit more than just administer the medication and walk away or suffer relapse upon relapse of your pet and your home being taken over by fleas. First step is monthly prevention. Get that started and then follow the below steps:
Wash Anything Washable:
Wherever your pet has been, there is a possibility that flea eggs, larva and adults are hanging out there too. Wash blankets, pet bedding and any sheets they have been on, etc every few days on high heat at first, then taper off as your pet scratches less and less.
Vacuum everything you were unable to wash, including your bed, couches and chairs. If you want to use a flea spray, use it first, wait a bit and then vacuum. Vacuum every day until your pet shows good improvement.
How do I know the fleas are gone?
I Still Have Fleas!!
One flea isn’t the hardest thing to kill. It’s just a tiny bug after all. It’s like squishing a gnat, but this is really when strength of numbers come into play. If only one pregnant female escapes the cleansing, you can start all back over. Do not stop the prevention. Continue monthly. If you are having an extra hard time in your house, seek professional pest control.