Warmer weather spells more quality time in the great outdoors and less time cooped up in the house. But it also means your furry friends can end up bringing inside some unintended guests of their own.
As the temperature rises in your area, so does the risk of your pet having to deal with fleas. A flea problem can wreak havoc on your pet and your home. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make this time less stressful and safer for you and your pets.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are a common parasite, one that all us humans and our four-legged friends have to contend with. A flea is a wingless insect that feeds on blood. They can jump up to two feet high and have a lifespan anywhere from 13 days to almost a year.
Making matters most troublesome, fleas are very persistent invaders. Untreated, a single flea can live on your pet for upwards of two months. A single female flea can also produce 2,000 eggs in her lifetime. That level of fertility means that once they become an issue, they may be very difficult to eradicate from your pet and your home.
Within five minutes of coming into contact with your pet, a flea will begin feeding. A single feeding session may continue for up to two and a half hours! In fact, female fleas can consume up to 15 times their body weight in blood.
If your dog or cat has an issue with fleas, it is common for your pet to demonstrate an increase in scratching or possibly even patchy hair loss. If you suspect that your pet has fleas, contact your veterinarian. Your vet can confirm the diagnosis and help you determine the best course of action for your furry friend.
What Issues Can Fleas Cause?
Though the most common issue associated with fleas is increased itching and scratching in your pet (and sometimes family members, too!), unfortunately, more serious problems can occur from a flea infestation.
Not only can fleas make your pet uncomfortable, but some pets can also have a serious allergy to flea bites. This condition, called flea allergy dermatitis, can lead to lingering issues, even long after the fleas have been killed. The pet may experience “hot spots” triggered by secondary infections. Allergies to fleas can also trigger other secondary conditions, including ear inflammation of the middle ear or mild forms of gastrointestinal distress.
Additionally, fleas can carry and transmit tapeworms to both humans and pets. Fleas have also been shown to be able to spread certain bacterial diseases, most famously the bubonic plague.
Though serious complications are rare, it is much easier to prevent these issues from happening than it is to try to treat them after they’ve occurred.
What Can I Do To Prevent Fleas?
Instead of having to react to the annoying presence of fleas, it is better to be proactive. You can go ahead and assume fleas will be active and ready to infest your area, especially from the months of April to October. By the time you notice fleas on your pet or on your person, there’s a good chance their eggs and larva are already spread throughout your home.
Taking a few steps to help prevent a flea issue can save you time, money, and frustration. If your pet gets fleas, you will likely need to purchase some medicine, sometimes multiple types, to help treat the issue. Furthermore, if the infestation spreads in your house, you may have to take additional steps such as deep cleaning furniture or fogging your entire house.
Here are some steps you can take to help prevent a flea issue:
Since fleas start to emerge when the weather gets warm, spring is the perfect time to start preparing for flea season. Giving your house a good clean, making sure to vacuum all carpeted areas, and considering buying and using a flea treatment for your home (which should be recommended by your veterinarian) are all important steps to take when trying to avoid a flea issue.
Wash/Clean Areas Where Your Pet Sleeps
Regularly washing your pet’s bed and sleeping area, whether it is inside or outside, can help keep fleas from breeding in or around your home. Soapy water can help kill any fleas or flea larva. Additionally, some scents, like citrus, are known to repel fleas, so using citrusy cleaning products or laundry detergent can help keep the fleas at bay.
A little upfront maintenance in your outside spaces can go a long way in preventing any potential flea infestations. When you are walking your dog outside or letting them out in the backyard, ensure the area your pets are in is well maintained. Fleas love weeds, trees, and the woods, and any overgrown area is likely to have some. Additionally, fleas are attracted to both bird feeders and birdbaths, so consider placing these features in an area of your yard that your pet doesn’t have regular access to.
A flea’s favorite habitat, though, is loose sand or soil in a well-shaded area. That includes dirt that can be found under leaf litter. Clearing away overhead branches, raking, and taking steps to reduce silt buildup are all great steps you can take to prevent fleas and their larva from living comfortably in your yard.
Regularly Groom and Bathe Your Pet
Regular grooming and bathing of your furry friend help ensure that you are checking over their fur and skin periodically. This small amount of due diligence can ensure they don’t have a small flea issue that turns into a major one.
When washing your dog, you may want to consider using a shampoo that is specially formulated to repel fleas. Additionally, you will want to check behind their ears, on their neck, near their tail, and between their toes, as you are bathing them to ensure they are getting a thorough inspection and clean.
Washing a cat is rarely necessary unless they have an advanced infestation. Instead, consider purchasing a flea comb. This will not only help you identify and monitor for the presence of fleas, but it can also help you maintain your cat’s coat.
Talk With Your Vet
Most veterinarians will recommend that you use a year-round flea treatment to stop any issues before they start. Talk with the veterinarian who knows your pets the best so you can get the medicine that is right for them. Additionally, your vet can recommend products to help with flea issues, such as preventative treatments that are safe and effective to use in your house and garden.
Greenlin Pet Resorts Can Help Keep Your Pet Healthy!
Whether you are looking for a fun place to send your dog during the day, a safe place to board your pet during trips away from home, or just somewhere for your pet to have a relaxing spa day, Greenlin Pet Resorts is here for you. With five locations in Central Pennsylvania, we are conveniently located to serve your family!
All of our locations and facilities are deep-cleaned regularly, and our outside areas are well-maintained. Additionally, all of our facilities have an extensive indoor playspace.
If you are worried about leaving your furry friend at home or in the yard all day, Greenlin Pet Resorts are a great alternative. We can give your dog the playtime and socialization they need, all while ensuring they stay happy and healthy. If you want to schedule a wash or some spa time for your pet, our experienced dog washers and groomers are trained to do physical checks on your pet and can help you stay on top of any potential issues they see.
Call us or contact us online to schedule a visit to one of our five conveniently located facilities. We look forward to meeting you and your furry family member!