Our pets are an important part of our family. You love them just like family and want to keep them safe and healthy. But they are also animals that run around outside, dig around in the dirt, and can bring different kinds of pests into your home. Ticks can attach themselves to your dogs, your cats can have a spider hitchhiking in on them, but the main pest your furry friends can bring home with them is fleas.
Flea collars, once-a-month treatments, flea baths, and shampoos – there are a lot of options out there to try to deal with these tiny biters. Just make sure you don’t deal with only one part of the equation. If you leave the other parts to sit there with fleas, you could be looking at dealing with them all over again. Knowing the truth about fleas is the first step to ridding you and your four-legged family members of them.
Myth #1: My Flea Preventative Didn’t Work
Not really. Many preventive flea methods only deal with the fleas that are currently on your pet. The flea bites the dog or cat, they ingest the stuff that they can’t handle, and just like that, those fleas are dead. Unfortunately, it will not take care of the 95 percent of other fleas, or flea cocoons and larvae that are not currently hitching a ride on Fluffy. So, don’t discount your flea treatment just yet. It could be working like it’s supposed to. It’s just not the only treatment you need.
Myth #2: The Fleas are on My Pet – Not in My Home
We wish this was true – we really do. But it’s not. If Polly brought in a flea, odds are there is way more than one. About half of those fleas will drop off your pet into your home. In reality, only about 5 percent of the fleas you have are currently residing on your pet. Where are the rest of them? About 10 percent will most likely be flea cocoons. These cocoons live in your home undetected and hatch within 3-4 weeks. An additional 35 percent are probably larvae. These will move around the home and feed on the feces from adult fleas — just when we thought they couldn’t get any more disgusting. About half, though, are eggs. These eggs will eventually hatch into baby fleas – and lots of them. If your pet brought a flea in, then your home has fleas.
Myth #3: I Can’t Treat My Home for Fleas.
Yes. And no. We would say yes, you shouldn’t treat your home yourself for fleas. Many over-the-counter treatment methods simply repel pests, whether you are treating for fleas, bed bugs, or cockroaches. They are all very similar in that they purely force them from the room where you did your DIY treatment. That didn’t remove them from your home. Often, it makes the infestation worse since they shy away from the area treated to find better (and harder to find) hiding spots. So, while you shouldn’t treat your home for fleas, a professional can and should. They will know what to use, how to use it safely, and what stages of the fleas will be eliminated. You should also have your home’s exterior inspected and treated if necessary. They clearly came in from somewhere ‒ and that may include a secluded area on your property where other animals with fleas are living. Having a professional locate and treat the source will go a long way in not inviting them back.
Flea bites can be an issue for both your canine or feline friends and your human family members. They are pretty easy to identify since they are usually small, red bumps that are in either a straight line or clustered together in groups of three or four. Unlike mosquito bumps, they stay small and rarely swell up, but they can develop a red circle around the center of the bite. Be sure not to confuse them with a tick bite because of that.
The bites are very itchy no matter who is getting bit. Because of this, they can develop a bacterial infection from constant scratching. We would say to try not to itch but it’s easier said than done. Hives or a rash can also develop and if you have a sensitivity to them, an allergic reaction can range from welts to difficulty breathing. The complications our furry friends can suffer can be an allergic reaction or a more severe anemia from loss of blood. Like you needed another reason to deal with those fleas.
We love our pets! And it’s ok for them to run around in the fresh air – it’s in their nature, really. But to keep them – and your home and family – safe from fleas, the better informed you are, the easier it is to keep them at bay. Knowing what to do the moment you see Toby doing some extra scratching and know who to call (in addition to the vet!) to take care of them as quickly as possible is your best defense. Getting your pet and your home back to being flea-free is the goal. After all, cuddles are where it’s at with our puppies and kittens so that they grow up to be super-loved dogs and cats. Cuddles are better without the fear of fleas.