How do I keep my pet flea free?

Fleas are a very common in cats and dogs. Fleas are external parasites. Once they get into your home or yard, it can be very difficult to get rid of them.

Did you know…

  • The average lifespan of a flea is two to three months, but fleas can survive without food for more than 100 days?
  • A female flea consumes 15 times her body weight in blood daily and can lay up to 50 eggs per day or 2,000 eggs in her lifetime?
  • Flea eggs fall off of your pet and hide in carpeting, furniture, bedding and other dark places?

Flea prevention

Flea prevention is much easier than treating an infestation of fleas. There are many safe and effective monthly flea preventions available for your pet. You can place a topical product on your pet once a month to prevent fleas only, fleas and ticks, or fleas, ticks and heartworms. There are also oral medications available to prevent fleas or to prevent fleas, heartworms and intestinal parasites in one monthly pill.

Make sure to use a product that is recommended by a veterinarian. Many over-the-counter flea prevention treatments are not only much less effective but can actually be harmful to your pet (particularly for cats). Some of the over-the-counter products contain pesticides that can lead to seizures or death in cats upon ingestion. Your veterinarian can help to determine which flea preventative is best for your pet, depending on the animal’s lifestyle and exposure to other pets.

Flea symptoms and complications

Fleas not only cause pets to itch, they can also cause skin irritation, tapeworms, flea allergy dermatitis, anemia (particularly in young animals) and other diseases. Your pet can get tapeworms by ingesting a flea. Tapeworms look like little white specks in the animal’s stool (they may look like grains of rice). Flea allergy dermatitis occurs in cats and dogs that are sensitive to flea bites. The skin irritation usually occurs on the pet’s back in front of its tail. Skin irritation can lead to hair loss and even a secondary skin infection. Flea anemia is a condition that can be severe in young puppies and kittens with a heavy flea infestation. The condition can cause such a severe case of anemia that the animal may require a blood transfusion.

If you have an infestation of fleas in your home or yard, you should seek the help of a professional exterminator. Professional exterminators use products that are safer and more effective for use in homes with pets than many over-the-counter products.