Fleas? What are those?
The flea is an external parasite of many species of mammals including cats and dogs. Adult fleas live on the animal and bite the skin, which allows them to consume the animal’s blood. There are also many species of fleas, however, the fleas that live on dogs, cats and some other mammals are the same species. This means that dogs can get fleas from cats, and vice versa! Yuck!
Oh no! You’ve found a flea on your pet! How did that get there?
Fleas can be picked up from a variety of sources, including wildlife and their nests, the environment, stray cats and dogs, and even from people’s clothes. Once they get in your household, they can be a menace to both the two-legged and four-legged occupants in your home!
But it’s the middle of the winter! How did my pet get fleas?
It’s important to understand the life cycle of the flea. Adult fleas live on an animal, feasting on their blood. These adult fleas will then lay eggs, which fall off into the surrounding area whenever the pet scratches or shakes. The flea eggs then hatch up to 1 month later, and the flea larvae begin developing within the bedding, flooring, carpet fibers, or other areas in the house. The developed fleas will then jump back on your pet and continue the life cycle. In this way, fleas can complete their entire life cycle within the warmth and safety of your home!
That’s gross! How do I get rid of them?
The best way to get rid of fleas is through a multimodal approach. The most important factor is to begin using a monthly flea and tick medication for your pet all year round. This will kill any fleas that have jumped back on your pet since the last application or use of the medication. Please contact your veterinarian for recommendations on which medication is best for your pet. This method is the best way to clear a flea infestation, and to prevent reoccurrence. The second part is to give your pet a bath, using diluted Dawn dish soap. Use regular, watered down Dawn, and be careful not to get it in your pet’s eyes, ears, or mouth.
Lastly, vacuuming carpet, floors, furniture, and laundering bedding is sufficient to reduce most of the flea eggs and larva from the environment. If any remaining fleas survive to fully develop, these fleas will be killed once they feed on your pet for the first time. Use these tips to help keep your pet and home flea-free!
Dr. Nick Bauer