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What to Do If Your Pet Has Fleas

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Springtime is here and with the warmer weather, there is an increased presence of fleas! These parasites are a hassle to get rid of. Once your house has fleas, it can take up to three months to completely eliminate the infestation due to the life cycle of the flea. Here’s what pet owners need to know about fleas and how to protect their pets.

Quick facts about fleas:

  • Fleas are often not directly contacted from one animal to another, but from the environment.
  • One adult female flea can lay 40-50 eggs per day.
  • Once in the environment, an egg hatches into a larva and then onto a pupa before it forms another adult flea. This process can be as short as one month in ideal conditions, but when it is cold or not ideal, the whole process can take up to two years.
  • The unknown timeframe is why a house with an infestation can take months to completely eliminate the pupae stage and prevent re-infestation.

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How do fleas affect my pet?

Fleas are not only irritating to your pet, but they can cause an allergic dermatitis from the bite and they may carry diseases such as Tapeworms, the bacteria Yersinia pestis (plague), and blood parasites such as Mycoplasma and Bartonella.

What should I do if my pet gets fleas?

For pets that have fleas, there isn’t one specific medication that is best for control. Pet owners should talk to their family veterinarians to develop a preventative and treatment plan that best suits the pet’s needs. There are oral tablets/liquid forms and topical forms of flea preventatives and treatments.

During an infestation, it is very important to clean the indoor environment. We recommend talking to your family veterinarian about specific products that they recommend. All bedding, carpets, and upholstery should be cleaned and treated with a product that will kill adult fleas and stop reproduction. When applying a treatment to the house, your pets should not be in direct contact with most products until they are completely dried.

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How can I prevent my pet from getting fleas?

Pets should be on a monthly preventative. Some preventatives work at killing the adult fleas while others work by preventing the ability of eggs to hatch. Even indoor cats should be on a monthly flea preventative because there is a risk of fleas being brought indoors by dogs, humans (on clothing or shoes), mice or rate infestations, or from short trips outside.

Where can I purchase flea preventatives?

We recommend purchasing these products directly from your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter medications are not monitored and can potentially cause seizures or severe reactions. Also, cats should ALWAYS have a product that is specifically labeled for use on cats. If a canine product that contains permethrins is used on a cat, it can be fatal.

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If your pet isn’t currently on preventatives, we highly recommend talking to your family veterinarian about getting started. This truly is the best way to prevent fleas, and save yourself the headache of having to rid your home of an infestation.

Resources:

https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951999

flea season, ticks and fleas, flea preventative, dogs and fleas, cats and fleas, flea infestation, veterinary, emergency vet, Minnesota veterinarian, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota


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