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Fleas: How to spot and prevent them on your pets

Updated: Mar 28

Unfortunately, fleas are a big problem for cats and dogs alike, causing itching and spreading disease. They are a common issue among pets and if left untreated can lead to more severe medical conditions including flea allergy dermatitis, flea bite anemia, and transmission of diseases (Feline infectious anemia) and parasites (like tapeworms). This is why precautions and preventive methods should be exercised to maintain the health of our furry friends.


How to check your pet for fleas

While it's important to check your pet thoroughly if you suspect that they may have contracted fleas, sometimes the signs aren't very clear. Luckily, several visual and behavioral signs can be easy to spot:

  • Your dog has pale gums, ears, or eyes (fleas can cause anemia in your pets, leading to a lack of red blood cells)

  • You see fleas crawling or jumping through your pet's fur.

  • There is flea dirt left behind in your pet's fur. (Flea dirt is flea-dropping, which is dried-up blood. A quick way to check is by taking drops of water and dropping them on the dirt to see if it turn red)

  • Your pet has red bumps or rashes on their skin that can be found around the collar/neck, around or behind the ears, behind the legs near the armpits or rear.

  • Your pet has increased anxiety, which can be expressed through excessive destructive behavior, excessive vocalization such as barking or meowing, inappropriate defecation (urinating, pooping in places that they shouldn't), or excessive repeated behaviors such as pacing, panting, or drooling.

If your pet is showing any of these signs, it is important to contact your veterinarian to discuss flea control and prevention.


How to get rid of fleas on your pets

Since fleas lay a lot of eggs, full extermination of them usually requires several methods being used together to completely rid your pet of the intruders, or else the cycle may continue again. As stated above, swift action and implementation of these methods is required if you suspect that your pet has contracted fleas recently.

  1. Topical (e.g., Revolution or Advantage) or oral flea medication (e.g., Simparica Trio, Nexgard, or Bravecto).

  2. Wash your pet with flea shampoo.

  3. Comb your pet with a flea comb.

  4. Pet-safe flea spray.

  5. Regular vet checkups.


How to clear your house of fleas

While it is unfortunate that our pets contract fleas, there are plenty of easy preventative methods that can be practiced. Fleas have multiple life stages, and if your pet has adult fleas on their fur, then it is likely that your home contains eggs or larvae that can continue the cycle. This means that you have to treat your pet and clear your house of fleas at the same time.

  1. Vacuum floors and furniture.

  2. Thoroughly wash your pet's bedding regularly.

  3. Steam clean carpets.


How to clear your yard of fleas

Fleas have distinct conditions in which they thrive. They love places that are heated, humid, and shaded. Once you have scanned your yard to find areas that fit these conditions, you can get to work employing these prevention methods.

  1. Mow your lawn or backyard.

  2. Rake your lawn to remove debris.

  3. Avoid overwatering your grass.

  4. Controlling stray animal populations in your area.


Conclusion

While it can seem a bit overwhelming to combat fleas, some many resources and people can help you in your battle to protect your pet and your home. It is important to use a combination of the methods listed above to clear your pet and household of fleas. Do research, reference different articles such as this one, and contact your local veterinarian if you believe that your pet has contracted fleas, and/or if your house has become infested.


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