No Reason For Fleas??

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Mar
27
2011

Animals in the House: No reason for fleas
By NANCY KERNS

Have you heard the expression, “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas”? It might be a useful idiom when taken as advice to be careful about who you spend time with, but given the advances in veterinary medicine, it just shouldn’t be true anymore when you’re talking about actual dogs.

The prescription flea-killing products that are available to pet owners today are so effective that there really is no longer a good excuse to have a pet with fleas.

If these “spot-on” compounds are used as directed on each dog and cat in your home for even just a few months, they have the ability to eliminate fleas from your home for good — as long as you practice a few other good house-keeping tasks regularly.

Pet beds should be washed frequently; the water kills flea eggs and flea larvae. Hard floors should be washed regularly for the same reason; all carpets in the house should receive frequent and thorough vacuuming.

If the house is currently infested with fleas, treat the pets, vacuum the whole house super well, and then change the vacuum bag. Seal the old one in a plastic garbage bag and throw it away, so the eggs and larvae can’t hatch in your vacuum and escape back into your home.

If you have cats who come and go from your home, make sure you treat them with one of the spot-on flea treatments, too. They may be picking up fleas in their travels and bringing the bloodsucking creatures home. If the cats are dosed regularly, you’ll close this revolving
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door of flea-induced misery.

Make sure you use only preparations intended for cats on cats; some of the treatments that are prescribed for dogs are lethal to cats. If your dog and cat sleep together or on the same bed, mention this to your veterinarian so she can prescribe a flea-treatment for your dog that won’t hurt the cat.

Also, occasionally change the product that you buy to prevent fleas from biting your pets. Over a number of generations, a local flea population can grow resistant to a single chemical, so switch up what you use, at least once or twice a year.

Flea bites are the No. 1 cause of allergies in dogs and cats, and in these hypersensitive individuals, even just a few flea bites can cause intense itching and scratching, to the point that the pet develops wounds and secondary infections from the self-mutilation. Even pets who are not allergic to flea bites suffer a certain amount from the local irritation of a bite.

Fleas can also transmit other diseases and infections. Were you aware that dogs and cats can get tapeworms from ingesting a tapeworm-infested flea in the course of licking themselves? Then you’ll need medications for treating tapeworms and fleas from your veterinarian!

What about flea collars, shampoos, dips, and powders? All of these products are old technology — not as effective as the modern once-a-month “spot on” products. While they may be far less expensive to purchase — not least in part because they don’t require a visit to the veterinarian and a prescription — ultimately, they will cost you more, because they don’t work nearly as well.

When your pet is keeping you up all night and driving you crazy with his incessant scratching and chewing due to a full-blown allergy to flea bites, you’ll realize the highly effective prescription preparations are worth the price.

Nancy Kerns is the Editor of The Whole Dog Journal, and a member of the NW SPCA board of directors.

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