If you have a cat or a dog, there’s a good chance that at some point, you’ve had to do battle with fleas. These tiny, almost impossible to see insects that are usually a pet irritation, can also become a major problem for your home.
With fleas, like many infestation problems, an ounce of prevention can be worth a ton of cure. Treat pets regularly for fleas (and ticks) before they can gain a foothold and to stop them from developing into a larger problem.
If you’ve let your pet’s flea problem go untreated, you will find that they’re not the only ones scratching. Fleas can irritate and cause itching to humans as well. It’s irritating enough when they crawl on you, but the worst of it is when they bite. How can anything so small deliver such a potent bite? And bite they will because they feed on blood and that’s how they can get it. But the fun part is trying to catch one when you see it or if it bites you. They’re so small that you can’t swat them, and it’s almost as difficult to pick one up (not only are they small but they seem to be able to jump across an entire room).
But the itchiness and biting is only the tip of the iceberg. Fleas can transmit diseases to both people and animals.
Because they carry blood-borne diseases, fleas were responsible for the bubonic plague that wiped out a large part of Europe in the 14th century. These rat fleas would feed on the blood of a rat that carried the bacteria, then bite a human, and regurgitate the infected blood into the bite wound. This lead to one of histories greatest natural disasters.
Fleas can transmit worms from animal to animal (though usually not people). For example, cat fleas carry and transmit tapeworms to dogs.
Skin inflammation (dermatitis) in pets can be caused by fleas. This is the most common skin problem that veterinarians treat. Pets develop an allergy to the saliva from bites and scratch to the point of irritation. Occasionally, in some pets, this excess scratching can lead to infection.
A heavy infestation of fleas has been known to cause anaemia in some pets. Because each swallows a small amount of blood, a large number of fleas can consume a significant amount. Anaemia can make pets become lethargic, and possibly lead to other medical problems. This is an especially dangerous problem for puppies and kittens because it can kill them.
Fleas are normally at their worst, or at least easiest for pets to pick up, during warm weather months. This is when the most diligence in protecting your pet is needed.
To determine whether your pet is infected, you can do the following:
Watch for any excessive scratching and/or irritability.
Comb through the hair of your pet. Watch closely for the fast moving, high jumping little buggers.
· Inspect your pet’s sleeping area. Look closely, and if fleas are there you’ll see them (of course if pets sleep with you, you’ll feel them as well).
·Wear white socks and walk around any areas you think might be infected. They’ll either be on the soles and in some cases, you’ll see them jump on your foot or ankle.
If you feel a flea’s bite or see a tiny speck appear and then disappear on you, you’ve got fleas.
If you find fleas in any of these places, you will have to treat them and/or your pet to rid your environment of them. Don’t let down your guard for a bit else fleas will quickly gain a foothold.
There are very effective products available now to treat animal flea problems. The best ones are available from your vet. There are also flea powders, dips, collars, and shampoos available over-the-counter that can do a pretty good job of eliminating your pet’s fleas.
To get rid of fleas in the home, there are foggers, carpet powders and sprays, and yard sprays. These will kill and control fleas in the home or yard.
You can’t ignore fleas for very long. The problem can become overwhelming if not handled promptly. Again, prevention is the very best course of action, but if that’s not possible, attack the problem as quickly as you can.
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