Fleas can be a problem year-round. However, their population can skyrocket during these warmer months due to their natural life cycle and the extra heat associated with summer.
Not only are fleas annoying for you and your pets, but they can also transmit serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, such as plague and typhus.
There are many effective ways to prevent your pet from getting fleas and keep them out of your home. You can also treat your pet if they already have fleas, although this is not as ideal as prevention.
How To Recognize a Flea Problem
Here are some signs that can help you tell if you or your pet has a flea problem:
- Excessive scratching or biting at their skin: Your pet will scratch and bite at the spot where the flea bites them because not only can their bite be painful, but they also excrete a substance that causes irritation and itching.
- Flea “dirt”: If you notice tiny black or dark specks in your house or your pet’s fur, this is usually flea excrement. You can test this if you’re unsure if it’s just regular dirt. Put some on a paper towel and spray it with a bit of water. If it is flea waste, it will turn a dark reddish-brown color from the digested blood.
- Hair loss: Some pets react to flea bites by losing hair around where fleas have bitten them. They may also pull out some of their hair from the continual scratching or biting at the bite spots.
How to Handle Fleas
The first line of defense is prevention, and the first step is flea prevention medication. You should consult with us about which product to use. Not all flea prevention products are compatible with all pets.
The breed, size, age, overall health, and other medications they might be taking can change the correct product and amount to use.
- Use flea prevention medications. Once you have consulted with us about what products are safe and effective for your pet, you should start using them immediately unless directed otherwise.
We carry the most dependable veterinary pharmaceuticals available and will go the extra mile to pair your dog or cat with the perfect products.
*Important note: ensure you get the proper treatment for your pet, especially for your pet’s weight. Using flea treatment meant for a dog on a cat or giving too high a dose to an animal can be fatal. Check with your veterinarian to ensure you are using the proper treatment.
- Vacuum, vacuum, and vacuum!
Vacuuming 2-3 times per week can help control the flea population. You should pay particular attention to any hotter or more humid areas of your home because these are areas where fleas will want to hang out. Often, we pair vacuuming with
Virbac Knockout ES Area Treatment spray to kill the eggs and larva in the carpet.
Bathe your pet. A bath can give your pet some instant relief before starting their preventative medication.
Wash All Bedding. Wash all bedding including your pet’s, in hot water. Dry it at the highest heat setting. If the infestation is severe, consider getting rid of old bedding and starting anew.
Unfortunately, flea treatment and prevention are not something you can do just once and never have to worry about again. Flea prevention also needs to be done year-round because although fleas are more active and plentiful in the summer, homes that get flea infestations have probably had fleas and their eggs building up in their homes for months.
If you only start taking measures against fleas when summer rolls around, it can be much harder to eliminate them all than if prevention is part of your routine.
We are happy to offer any advice or guidance you might need to help handle and prevent fleas, so don’t hesitate to ask us!
Dr. Ashley Tuma