Where should you go if you have a flea problem? Why your local pet groomer of course! Read on to learn more about fleas and why they’re a problem as well as how to prevent them.
Spring is in the air! Flowers! Birds singing! Warmer weather! Fleas! Wait…what? Fleas? Yep! Warmer weather brings on the fleas and now is the time to get rid of them if your pet already has them…
Let’s start by talking about some basics.
Where do fleas come from?
Usually, fleas come from outside. They start out as eggs found in shady areas especially when it’s warmer out. They can then latch on to a passing-by and unsuspecting host where they then live and feast on the host’s blood. Ew. There, adult females lay 30-60 eggs per day. You read that right. Some of those flea eggs fall off of your pet and land all over your home and outside, wherever your pet is. The cycle can then start again with another animal or reinfest your dog or cat if you get rid of the fleas on their coat.
Why are fleas a problem?
Besides being gross, fleas can be a real problem. Fleas can result in flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergy to flea saliva. And the results are less than desirable. Hair loss, scabs, and welts can all come about from this condition.
Tapeworms can become a problem when your dog or cat ingests an infected flea while grooming themselves. This can lead to abdominal pain and itching around the poor pet’s anus. Treatment will require a visit to the vet.
Next on this fun list is flea anemia. Because fleas feast on blood, it means that flea-infested pets are losing blood daily. While it takes a lot of fleas to drain enough blood to create anemia, some animals are particularly susceptible such as young kittens and puppies as well as senior dogs and cats. If you notice signs of anemia such as lethargy, dark stools, dark blood in feces or vomit, skin bruising, or pale gums, get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
If flea anemia isn’t enough for you, there is also feline infectious anemia. Coming from a bacterium, this disease is caused by M. Haemofelis attaching itself to cats’ red blood cells, damaging them. The body then filters out and attacks the damaged red blood cells leading to anemia. This is a serious condition and should be treated immediately.
Cat scratch fever is yet another possibility thanks to flea dirt (aka droppings) and flea bites. In this way, the flea bites and flea dirt can pass on B. Henselae. Cats get the infected flea dirt in their teeth and nails when they bite and scratch at themselves where the fleas cause itching. The germ can then be spread to humans if cats scratch enough to break the skin or lick a crack in the skin or an open wound.
How do I know if my pet has fleas?
The most typical sign of fleas is your dog or cat itching excessively. Red pimples or bumps are also common signs of a flea-infested pet. If you’re unsure that the itching is caused by fleas, you can inspect your dog or cat with a fine-tooth comb. Have your dog stand over a white towel and comb there. You will see black flea dirt fall from your pet if the cause of the itching is in fact fleas. You may also see fleas jumping and moving about in the home. If you need further confirmation, you can set a dish of soapy water near a night light at night and find them in the dish in the morning, this is called a light trap.
What do I do if my dog or cat has fleas?
You look for your local pet groomer of course! What will an experienced pet stylist do? It depends. At Grooming Girls, we don’t use chemical flea medication on any pets as some dogs and cats can have serious reactions to them which can potentially be fatal. We start by doing a natural flea bath. While this gets rid of the all of the fleas, eggs, and larva, it’s only one part of the solution. While the dog is in the pet salon, we suggest owners do their part and rid the house of those pesky little pests. This means gathering up all bedding, vacuuming your entire house, cleaning mattresses, cleaning every corner and crevice, a serious deep clean. When you vacuum, you may be concerned about fleas crawling out of the vacuum and reinfesting the home. Luckily, while fleas are tricky, the larvae and pupae are killed in the vacuuming process. Adult fleas are the hardest to kill and vacuuming kills 96% of them (as opposed to 100% of larvae and pupae). The surviving fleas are left in much worse shape before entering the vacuum and are unlikely to live long afterward. There’s at least one win in the fight against fleas!
You’ll need to especially focus on the areas your pet hangs out in the most. It won’t be easy but it is so necessary if you want to break the flea cycle. If it’s really bad, you may need to hire a flea exterminator. We also suggest that for 2-3 months, you limit where your pet can roam in the house and keep it to one or a few specific areas. Every seven days, you need to clean your house thoroughly again to break the flea cycle. Once you are rid of the fleas, you will likely want to not go through all of that again and use flea prevention at home. This brings us to…
What is the best prevention for fleas?
There are many options for flea prevention and you’ll want to discuss these with your veterinarian. Options range from pills, chewable tablets, sprays, collars, and more. Though, be aware that flea prevention for dogs IS NOT SAFE FOR CATS and can be fatal. Flea collars are not ideal as they contain a chemical liquid and can cause chemical burns, though this is rare and should be discussed with your vet. But the prevention doesn’t stop there. You’ll also need to spray your yard and house to prevent flea infestation. Flea treatments for the house include options like carpet powders and sprays. Flea treatments for the yard include chemical spray and a few steps. You’ll want to mow your grass, clean your lawn, avoid overwatering your lawn, allow the sun to shine on your lawn (you don’t want your lawn covered in shade where fleas love to hang out), add cedar mulch which naturally deters fleas, and keep out wildlife which can bring in new fleas.
We can help! Grooming Girls has experienced pet stylists who can help rid your poor flea-infested pet of the tiny critters. We give gentle and natural flea baths and are able to give you some recommendations on products, although you’ll want to consult your vet. We can help you identify fleas in your dog and we use only pet-safe products. If you’re unsure if your pet has fleas, give us a call today!