Why are Pets Susceptible to Fleas?
Fleas – just the word can make any pet owner shiver. The ASPCA states that dogs and cats are susceptible to fleas because fleas can be found everywhere your pet is and they are highly mobile. The fleas’ ability to jump and move long distances quickly makes easy for the little blood suckers to hitch a ride on your pet.
The jumping pests are notoriously difficult to get rid of. There are 2 important things every pet owner needs to know: 1) prevention is never 100% but it helps to mitigate the severity of a breakout, and 2) fleas have a 4 stage life cycle that lasts between 16-21 days. Successful flea treatment means targeting each stage of the cycle.
Which Pets are Most Prone to Fleas?
The blood suckers are found all over the place. But pets that live in warm and moist/humid climates have an increased risk of catching fleas. It won’t surprise you to learn that outdoor pets are more vulnerable to fleas.
In an article for Pet WebMd Dr. Jennifer Kvamme wrote that it only takes a few fleas to create an infestation. She goes on to say that there are 3 main contact points between pets and fleas:
- Other animals – wild animals/strays that frequent your yard/neighbourhood can introduce fleas to your yard, or other people’s pets your pet might meet
- Human transportation – fleas can attach themselves you your clothes, or shoes and hop onto your unsuspecting pet at an opportune moment
- Outside – the yard, dog parks, or your neighbourhood are all places your furry friend can encounter fleas
Peak flea season generally starts in the warm spring months and end in early autumn depending on where you live. You’ll want to keep a close eye on Fluffy for signs of fleas. Here are some ways to prevent fleas suggested by Dr. Kvamme and the ASPCA:
- Preventative flea treatments – talk to your vet first, some fleas medications for dogs are deadly poisonous to cats
- Anti-flea landscaping – natural and chemical pesticides can be used in the yard to prevent or control and infestation (nematodes, and other microscopic worms eat flea larva). Also, add plants that naturally repel fleas (wormwood, eucalyptus, citronella, tansy, rue, and sweet bay are some examples)
- Flea comb your pets on a regular basis
- Wash your pet’s bedding on a regular basis
WebMD, the ASPCA, and Dr. Kvamme recommend trying natural flea remedies before going the chemical route. There is a great list of natural DIY flea remedies at everydayroots.com. The remedies include a flea collar, a flea deterring drink, and a flea bag http://everydayroots.com/flea-remedies. Be sure to check them out and let us know if they work for you.
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Want to check out the resources we mentioned in this blog? Check out the links below:
- https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/fleas – general info about fleas
- http://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/evr_dg_how_did_my_dog_get_fleas_and-or_ticks – Dr. Kvamme’s article about flea transmission and prevention
- http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/parasites/f/FAQ_fleacycle.htm – information about the flea life cycle
- http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/fleas-dogs-what-look-for – WebMd article about fleas and symptoms of an infestation
- http://everydayroots.com/flea-remedies – Everyday Roots’ list of natural flea remedies