Left untreated, fleas can be a serious concern for the wellness of your puppy or kitten. Constant scratching can cause pets to damage their skin, potentially leading to infection, and fleas can carry serious diseases like bartonellosis and parasites like tapeworms.
Some pets experience Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), an allergic reaction that many pets have to the fleas’ saliva. Common symptoms of FAD include hair loss, scabs, and secondary infections—all uncomfortable for the pet and upsetting for the owner.
Fleas have also been known to bite humans, especially below the knees and along the forearms, and their bites can leave itchy bumps behind. The more severe a flea infestation becomes, the more likely that infestation is to affect people in the household. Flea bites make puppies, kittens, and their owners miserable, so treating fleas is a priority for the wellness of both you and your pet.
Treatment Begins with Your Local Veterinarian
When confronted with an outbreak of fleas, it’s always best to take your puppy or kitten to the local veterinarian for professional care. A veterinarian can determine the severity of a flea infestation and recommend the best products for killing those fleas without risking your pet’s (or your family’s) health and safety. Your veterinarian can also check your pet for signs of FAD and skin infection, allowing for the prescription of appropriate medications.
Because flea infestations involve both adult fleas and larvae, the best strategy is to find a product or products that target both. Keep in mind that multiple treatments are generally required to get rid of an infestation, and that different types of pets may require different treatments. There are also products available for treating your home and even your yard if necessary.
Additionally, the pet grooming services offered by your local veterinarian can include flea baths, providing your pet with some much needed comfort and affection during a difficult time. Once you’ve eliminated fleas on your pet, boarding services allow your pet to stay in a safe environment while you work to eliminate the fleas in your home.
How Fleas Spread Inside the Home
Flea infestations are notoriously difficult to eliminate and can frustrate and drain worried pet owners. However, if you’re persistent, you can defeat them. Your most powerful weapon against fleas is the knowledge of how fleas spread and survive inside the home.
While fleas live on your pet, their tiny eggs fall out of your pet’s fur when they move or scratch, causing your carpet, bedding, and other fabric surfaces to become breeding grounds. Once hatched, these fleas can survive for up to three months while looking for their first meal.
Additionally, for pet owners with multiple dogs and/or cats, those pets should be given treatments at the same time. Fleas not only make use of the fabrics in your home, but they also enjoy hopping from pet to pet in search of a safe place to live. Once one pet becomes infested with fleas, those fleas will undoubtedly spread to the other pets in the home, starting the whole cycle over again.
Vacuum Thoroughly and Often
Flea larvae left to hatch on carpets and furniture are a common way for flea infestations to return. As a result, we recommend vacuuming problem areas every other day for the first few weeks. This includes vacuuming any furniture that your pets like to lay on. Use your vacuum attachments to carefully cover all the fabric surfaces of your furniture, and make sure to vacuum under the furniture as well.
When you’re done vacuuming, quickly discard the vacuum bag or empty your vacuum carefully. Fleas that survive the vacuum can escape back into your home if not properly discarded. If your vacuum does not use a disposable bag, make sure to empty the vacuum somewhere away from your pets’ living space. It only takes one or two fleas to ruin all of your efforts.
You can also use flea powders to help prevent fleas from surviving in the vacuum and kill any fleas remaining on your carpets or hardwood floors. See your veterinarian for guidance and recommendations about these products.
Washing bedding and clothes
Nothing beats cuddling up with your cat on the bed and reading a good book. However, like your carpets, untreated bedding can allow infestations to return. The more often you change and wash your bedding, the better. Use hot water to ensure that fleas and larvae die in the process.
Likewise, any clothing your pets may have contaminated should be washed in hot water. Once cleaned, keep clothing out of your pets’ reach to prevent the need for repeat washes. Close closet doors, keep laundry hampers off the floor, and put clean clothes away as soon as possible.
Using a flea comb each day
For pets that aren’t fussy, using a fine-toothed flea comb can help keep flea numbers reduced during an infestation. Run the comb along your pet’s skin at an angle, aiming to gather up remaining fleas and their eggs. Then, dip the comb into a cup of hot, soapy water. Fleas will take their first chance to jump off the comb and onto your pet; soapy water incapacitates fleas, allowing them to be safely thrown away.
We hope you find this helpful—if you want to talk to our team about protecting your pets from fleas, just request an appointment!