• Dr. Shell

The Year of the Flea

Folks, fleas are epidemically bad this year. Georgia's warm winter and rainy early summer have led to flea problems the likes of which we haven't seen in many years. Many of our patients; small dogs, outdoor dogs, indoor only cats, even rabbits and ferrets have been battling flea issues.

In fact, last December was the worst month of the year for fleas. Some people think that cold weather kills fleas. However, the temperatures have to be below freezing for several days in order to kill fleas. Colder temperatures do slow them down, but it rarely gets cold enough for long enough in the southeast to actually kill fleas. Another issue is the warmer the weather, the faster fleas reproduce.

Why should we be concerned about fleas? First of all, fleas suck blood. If a small dog, cat, or rabbit has enough fleas, the pet can actually become dangerously anemic due to blood loss. Secondly, fleas carry a number of diseases that are transmittable to animals and people; tapeworms, Plague, and Cat Scratch Fever to name a few.

What are some signs your pet may have fleas? On dogs, fleas tend be near the tail and on the back legs. Some dogs will bite and chew near the base of the tails, and they can develop hairloss and red infected skin. Cats often have more issues with fleas around their neck, leading to scratching and hair loss.

So what can you do to keep you and your pets safe from fleas?

First of all, use a good flea preventative every month. Let us help you pick the one that is best for your pet and your budget. We have monthly chewables and monthly topicals that work all for almost all kinds of pets.

Secondly, use your flea preventative year round. If you wait until you see fleas, your pets and your house are most likely already infested.

Thirdly, you can treat your house or yard yourself or let your pest control company do the treatment. However, if you are using flea prevention all year, it is very unlikely your pet will have issues with fleas.

Fourth. Treat all the pets in your house. This way the fleas have no way to survive.

Here are some common myths about fleas:

-I would know if I had fleas in my house because I would be getting flea bites too. This is false. Fleas prefer animals over humans, and will not usually bite humans.

-Hardwood floors make it more difficult to get fleas in the house. This is false. There are enough tiny grooves and cracks in hardwoods for flea larva to thrive.

-My pet can't have fleas because it never goes outside. This is false. Fleas can and do get inside and infest pets that never step foot out of the house.

If you have any questions about your pet's flea prevention, feel free to give us a call.

#dogs #fleas