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Flea Facts for Fido

Posted March 13, 2018 @ 3:37pm | by Stephanie Pylka, DVM

Spring is coming! Warmer weather means that flea eggs can hatch and become a serious problem in your home and on your pets. During the brief warm up at the end of February, I have already seen a dog with fleas this spring!  With that being said, here’s what pet owners need to know about fleas.

First off, what exactly are fleas? 
Fleas are an external parasite. 

How do dogs get fleas?
Dogs can pick up fleas from interactions with other pets that are infected, their environment, or even from rodents and birds that have fleas. Fleas are also a major source for tapeworm (intestinal parasite) infections. 

How can dog owners prevent their pets from getting fleas? 
The best preventative is using a veterinary approved flea preventative. There are many forms now available, both oral and topical. Year-round flea preventative is always recommended to prevent a flea outbreak in your home. 

Over-the-counter medications are not as well regulated and can potentially be toxic to some pets. It is important that you give your pet the correct dose and you use the correct preventative for your pet’s species. 

Cat owners, please note that a cat CANNOT use a preventative made for dogs as it can have ingredients that are toxic to cats! It is best to talk to your family veterinarian to decide the best preventative for your pet.

What do I do if my pet does get fleas? 
If you have a flea infestation in your home, it can take up to three months to fully rid your home of the fleas. Fleas have a four-stage life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). The only phase of the life cycle that lives on the pet is the adult, this means that >50% of the fleas are in the environment of your home. 

Thorough cleaning and vacuuming are very important to stop the life cycle. I have worked with many clients that have re-infestations of fleas and it is because they are having difficulty removing the infection from the home environment. If you have fleas in your home, it is important to discuss the best treatments with your family veterinarian.  

As the weather continues to warm up, we recommend talking to your family veterinarian if your pet is not currently using a year-round flea preventative. If you have any questions or concerns about fleas, ask your family vet for more information! 



Understanding the Flea Life Cycle

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