Itchy Pet ? Prevent & Get Rid of Fleas

 Itchy Pet ?  Prevent & Get Rid of Fleas

Only 5% of the problem lives on our pets, the other 95% of the flea lifecycle lives in your home. Read more...

Flea Facts :

Did You Know ?

• Fleas are incredible athletes. A flea can jump over seven inches high and thirteen inches long. If a flea were the size of a human, that’s equivalent to jumping 1000 feet high!

• Fleas can transmit tapeworms when your pet eats them as a result of itching and chewing. Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that can cause malnutrition if left untreated.  The good news is a simple dewormer will kill the tapeworm.

New this year (2019) is a Heartworm preventive medication that includes protection against a variety of intestinal parasites and it NOW it also incorporates a  dewormer for tapeworms.   Be sure to ask your Veterinarian for details.

• Young animals with a heavy flea infestation are at risk of developing anemia. (Pets under 6-8 weeks should not be treated with flea products. Consult your veterinarian for a safe recommendation)

• Not only are fleas annoying to their hosts, some animals are sensitive to fleas and can develop a skin reaction called “ flea allergy dermatits" ( FAD) which can then lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).

• Don’t forget, fleas can also bite people!

• The longer you ignore a flea problem the bigger the infestation will become.

• When you first see a flea on your pet, it means the problem has likely been going on in your home for 1-2 months already

• Some dog flea treatment products can be toxic to cats. Click here.

What do fleas look like?

Fleas are small, reddish-brown, and typically measure 1.5 to 3.2 millimeters in length.  They crawl quickly through your pet's fur.   They bite and feed on your pet's blood.   Often if you look at your pet's skin, it will look like someone has sprinkled them with a pepper shaker....  What you are actually seeing is flea poop.

Itchy dog with fleas


To confirm this, place a piece of white paper towel under your pet and scratch your fingers through their coat.   Add a drop of water to any debris found on the paper towel.  If the particles dissolve into rusty spots on the paper towel - you've got fleas !

Adult Fleas - jump onto your dog or cat, feed on its blood and then start laying eggs. One female lays up to 50 eggs per day on your pet which will drop off in carpets and bedding before finishing out the rest of the lifecycle and hatching.

Flea Lifecycle

Within a few days, flea eggs will develop into larvae. In a week or two, these larvae spin a cocoon and develop into pupae much like a caterpillar does when changing into a butterfly.

In a few more weeks (but possibly in a few months), the pupae develop into fleas that emerge from the cocoons and jump onto pets and, occasionally, people.

Virtually NOTHING can destroy this pupae…. so when trying to clear an infestation… you have to wait for them to hatch, allowing the emerging adult to be killed by coming into contact with flea prevention products.

Bayer Flea Lifecycle Video

The entire life cycle, from egg to adult flea, is complete in about 14 – 25 days when temperature and humidity conditions are ideal. You would be surprised to know that only about 5% of a flea infestation is made up of adult fleas that you see on your pet. The other 95% is in your home as eggs, larvae and pupae.

Treating Your Pet and the Environment

Cat scratching fleas


Treat all dogs and cats for at least three months. In multiple-pet households, every dog and cat in the home must be treated every month for at least three months to successfully eliminate all fleas in the environment. You should also tell your veterinarian if you have domestic rabbits, ferrets, or hedgehogs as pets because these species can also be flea hosts. If you only treat 1 pet but not the others, the fleas will continue on with their lifecycle, living on the untreated pets and the problem will persist.

While there are many “natural remedies” found on the internet and cheap knock-off products found in pet stores and some dollar stores….. most people eventually realize they haven’t saved any money when they don’t work to get rid of the infestation.

Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a variety of safe products that can be used to treat your pets and their home environment, which should clear the problem within 3 months.

The great thing about the products we carry is the safety and support available to our clients (either by us or the product company) to help coach you through getting rid of the fleas.

Most flea problems can be taken care of with one of 2 veterinary prescribed topical (applied to skin) products that not only treat the pet, but also have residual effect by treating the home environment (bedding, carpets) as well.

Some People Also Want To Treat The Home As Well

When choosing a product to spray the home, make sure it  states on the label that it contains an IGR ( insect growth regulator).

An insect growth regulator (IGR) is a substance that inhibits the life cycle of an insect. When using these sprays after a thorough vacuuming, they will continue to work on the problem.  Make sure to follow the label directions carefully.  Most manufatureres suggest testing the spray on your carpet and furniture in an inconspicuous area before spraying everything... just to be safe.

You will want to spray the areas of the home your pet spends most of their time. You will want to remove your pets from the home for part of the day while the product is drying, opening windows to help air out your home.  You may wish to do a second spraying in about 3 weeks time to catch hatching fleas.

We do carry such a spray and it has a residual effect for up to 7 months, meaning it will continue to work against the stages of the flea that are in your home.

If you can part with your pet's bed, or some cheap mats / throw rugs… do so.  For items you can’t part with, wash and dry them.

Thoroughly vacuum the home, making sure to discard the vacuum bag or empty the canister into a plastic bag and put it in your outside garbage.

Washing your bedding will kill any fleas that may be there. You do not need to get rid of the mattress. For your sofa, remove the cushions and pillows and vacuum thoroughly. Using a nozzle attachment, make sure to focus on the crevices and folds in the fabric.

I usually suggest giving your new vacuum bag or the inside of your vacuum canister a spray with your flea spray to help prevent the possibility of any surviving fleas.

How Long Do I Need To Use Prevention On My Pet ?

Lady in park with dog and cat


Typically we talk to our clients about using a flea preventive product in the spring right through to the fall before there is a chance of developing a flea problem.

Some products are applied topically once per month. Some products can be taken orally once a month, or every 3 months. Discuss the choices with your veterinarian. If you have questions just give us a call for advice.  ( 519-624-9760)

I strongly urge people to treat longer than 3 months if you can once you've had an infestation  …. Maybe even year round thereafter for a few different reasons or living situations:

1. While most pupae will have hatched by the end of a 3 month treatment… some pupae can last in the environment, remaining dormant for periods of time – only to hatch and repeat the problem all over again.

2. Your pet could be tracking in eggs from outside sources, re-infecting your home, especially if certain wildlife (opossums, raccoons, foxes and coyotes) or roaming/stray pets ( cats/dogs) live near by, possibly travelling through your yard.

3. If you live in an apartment building or rent part of a house and have a shared entrance/hallway…. You could track flea eggs into your apartment from other people’s pets.

4. While fleas can lay dormant over winter, our homes are warm year round; hence they can breed all year round.

How to Check Your Pet For Fleas

Banfield Veterinary

If your pet has fleas get them treated as soon as possible to reduce the annoying itch.  Prevent your pet developing a secondary skin issue that may require steroids and antibiotics.     Let us help you get rid of the problem.

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