My pet has FLEAS??!!!

It has happened to all of us. We see the dreaded pesky little creatures crawling through our pets hair or even worse, your veterinarian is asking you- did you know your dog/cat has fleas? Many are in denial. I hear ” That isn’t possible! My dog can’t have fleas, she sleeps with me! or My cat NEVER goes outside, how does she have fleas! She must have gotten them out in your waiting room!” I decided it is definitely time to have the flea talk. Fleas are more than annoying to dogs and cats, they are a common cause of skin infections for those pets who are allergic. Pets can eat these little guys and ingest tapeworms. In extreme cases, the blood-suckers called fleas can cause life threatening anemia. The adult fleas you see are just the tip of the iceberg. The represent 5% of your problem. 95% of the problem is hiding where you cannot see it.

How did my pet get these fleas? Well, I can tell you the vast majority of the time the pet has come into contact with an area where flea eggs have developed to pupae. These fleas are newly hatched and anxious to find a host. Flea eggs do not spread from host to host. Adult fleas can move from host to host but in most cases don’t bother to do that. Think about it- they are happy and have a large blood meal, why would they leave that animal? They are taking a chance of losing a good thing and they don’t do that.

Areas where flea pupae are common include grass and soil, where fleas are spread by wildlife and feral cats, and in homes, where they may be spread by rodents or other pets with active, egg-laying flea infestations living in or visiting the home. They are not common in vet’s offices, where tile or linoleum floors are regularly cleansed, providing an environment that is poorly suited to flea development.

So now that you have a flea infestation what should you do? Call your veterinarian and ask for help! There are tons of good products available to help kill and prevent fleas. Many of these products are affordable and can save you a ton of time and trouble if you try to attack this problem on your own. I recommend a flea product that has both an adulticide (kills adault fleas) and an IGR or Insect Growth Regulator or IDI Insect Development Inhibitor, which attacks other stages of the flea life cycle. This will solve the problem faster than just trying to kill adult fleas. IGRs and IDIs keep baby fleas from becoming adult fleas. Its halts their development. If all you are doing is killing adult fleas ( like with many shampoos and sprays) you have to wait for all of those eggs to hatch and mature before the product will work. This has to be repeated frequently, all the while some of those adults are still laying eggs before you kill them. You can see how this creates a terrible cycle and makes it very difficult to get under control. Many people are stuck in this and think they are saving money by not using a product from their veterinarian. They have spent a fortune on shampoos, sprays, flea collar, foggers, and still haven’t solved the problem. They are frustrated and their pet is miserable….and now likely has a skin infection. So, now they have to call the vet, they end up paying more to treat the skin infection and usually end up buying the product they were trying to avoid buying in the first place.

Moral of the story- Call your vet and ask for help.

Wag more, Bark less,

Dr. Macie

PS- Check out this gross video


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