Fleas; Your Dog’s Arch Enemy
This is one of the worst years in my memory for fleas, at least here in the South! The irony for me is that I am from the North West and I never grew up having to worry about fleas or the carnage they wreak on pets. In the North West, it gets too cold during the winter for fleas to survive so they don’t pose much of a problem for house pets. Even when I was a veterinary technician in Denver, Colorado we didn’t see problems with fleas in dogs or cats unless they were actively around wild life. Truth be told, I hardly recognized fleas when I moved to Georgia four years ago however the education was rapid!
Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned about the flea, is that it can’t be plucked and squished with your fingers. Fleas have an extremely hard exoskeleton that protects them from being squished and killed easily. Fleas must be killed by rolling them between your fingers and then squeezing them in between two fingernails, or crushing them between two hard objects. Fleas can also be killed by using adhesive tape, drowning in water and direct contact with anti-flea pesticides.
Fleas can survive two months to a year between meals. A flea population is unevenly distributed, with 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and 5% adults. Their total life cycle can take as little as two weeks, but may be as long as many months if conditions are favorable. Female fleas can lay 500 or more eggs over their life, allowing for phenomenal growth rates.
It is a common Myth at fleas don’t bite people. Fleas often bite people and can cause itching and rashes and even skin infections in some people.
Prior to an Infestation
Educate yourself about flea products, not all products are created equal. Flea collars are ineffective and do little to no good for most pets. Sprays and flea baths can be effective if the product is made by a good manufacturer, however if you use topical flea medications like Frontline® frequent baths can wash away the expensive prescription medication you are using.
Speak to your local veterinarian about prescription products to help keep your best friend flea free. The recommendation of products depends on your vet, your pet and the dynamics of your particular geographical area and the propensity for flea infestation. Prescription products are the best, and there is even a monthly pill that can be given to help your pet be more comfortable. Even ONE flea can cause severe reaction, itching and allergies in some dogs.
After an Infestation
Once you have recognized fleas on your pet and you have sought the assistance of your vet to help kill the fleas on your pet, it is time to deal with the problem so that it doesn’t get worse or continue to plague you.
First is to treat your pet and give him some relief. If untreated a flea infestation can lead to severe skin infection in pets.
Next you must treat the area your pet goes and resides. You must treat the residence inside and outside to see improvement in this predicament. There are products you can get to spray or bomb inside (pets, humans and fish must be removed in order to use indoor bombs) or you can contact a local pest company.
You must also treat the yard and any outdoor area your pet goes. You can also find products at your local store to treat the outdoor area, or again you can contact a pest company that will treat the area for you.
The MOST IMPORTANT PART
You must treat the inside and the outside area once weekly with whatever product you desire weekly for at least 3 weeks. Because there are many lifecycles of the flea, you must kill each lifecycle. When you initially treat the area, you will kill the adult flea but not necessarily the pupae or the eggs which can be very resistant to insecticides. Care must be taken for several weeks to kill all of the fleas and their offspring in the environment both indoors and out.
Flea infestation can cause severe problems for the humans and the pets in the environment. Speak to your vet and come up with a plan to keep your home flea free, and if an infestation does erupt just be diligent in making sure all fleas have been killed and good luck!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.