Fleas are most often seen during the warmer months but as your homes are kept nice and warm throughout winter, fleas can be seen all year round on your pets. Only a small part of the adult flea population actually lives on your pet. The fleas’ eggs and larvae live in the environment and can survive for up to a year, so it is important to not only treat your animal directly for fleas but also to decontaminate the environment as well. Wash your pet’s bedding using the hottest cycle, and regularly vacuum carpets and floorboards. Since the flea larvae feed on dust, they like to gather behind or under furniture, where cleaning is more difficult. If you have seen fleas on your pet, give your house a good vacuum, including in those hard-to-reach areas. We do not recommend flea collars or flea shampoos alone as they fail to address the environmental flea infestation. Instead, there are several effective monthly treatments available that will protect your pet from re-infestation as well as reducing the number of eggs and larvae in the environment. Please discuss the options with your veterinary clinic to work out what is best for your pet.
Fleas will tend to jump onto your pet only to feed and then jump off again, so you may not find any fleas when you look through your pet's coat. However, dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Treatment of flea allergy dermatitis can be complicated and need ongoing treatment, so please have a consult with your veterinarian if your pet is bothered by fleas.
Some signs that your pet may have fleas include:
- Scratching, biting and hair loss, especially at the base of the tail and rump
- You may see fleas (especially over the rump and in the groin region)
- Flea dirt may be seen in the coat. It can be difficult to find the fleas, but is relatively easy to check for flea dirt. Simply moisten a cotton ball, part your pet’s fur and place the cotton ball on the skin over the rump. If the cotton ball takes on black specs surrounded by a reddish area, this may be flea dirt and can indicate that your pet has fleas.
Warning: Some non-veterinary brands of flea treatments for dogs are potentially lethal when applied to cats. Always seek veterinary advice about the best flea treatments for your pet.
Please call us to discuss an appropriate flea control program for your pet.