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  Patapsco Valley View

Volume 7

Sept 2012

Fleas! Public Enemy #1

What’s that? Fluffy’s scratching?

And what is that little…..wiggly…hoppingkeener_hand.jpg

THING?! AHHH! It’s a FLEA!

Summertime through fall…sunny days and hot weather herald the inevitable arrival of BUGS!

Fleas are one of the things that make summer weather miserable for your pets, and if they get into your house, they can make you uncomfortable too! Scratching is only part of the issue. Some pets are actually allergic to flea bites and will develop skin issues such as hair loss or even infections.

Fleas live to eat, and their favorite restaurant is your happy, healthy pet. However, in a pinch, fleas are quite happy to use human family members for a quick bite. They live exclusively on a diet of blood, and sometimes the only sign that you see that warns you of their existence in your environment (in your house or on your pet) can be tiny ‘squiggles’ of ‘flea dirt’ on your pet’s bedding or in their fur. Flea dirt is what is excreted from the flea after it has a blood meal from your pet. It is basically made up of dried blood and appears like minute ‘squiggles’ laying on sheets or blankets. If you dribble water upon these ‘squiggles’ they will stain the area a bloody red.

Fleas use your pet as a meal and a travel agent, going from house to house and settling down where they feel comfortable. Once there, a single flea can lead to thousands.

Fleas have a four stage lifespan. The first is the egg. Fleas lay eggs in abundance, and they normally will leave them in nice warm areas like your carpet, furniture, or closets. Flea eggs can lay dormant for months before hatching.

Once hatched, fleas go through a larval stage where they feed on the flea dirt left behind by the adult fleas.

The next stage is called the pupae, and this is where the flea larva develops a hard shell and cannot be destroyed.

The last stage is when the pupae cracks like an egg and releases the full grown fleas who hop around until they find a pet, or person, to feed on. After they eat, they excrete ’flea dirt’, and if you see this squiggly evidence, or you actually see tiny fleas crawling through your pet’s hair, (often on the abdomen) then you have fleas, and you want to kill them as soon as possible!

The first step is to treat your pet with a good flea and tick treatment like Vectra, Frontline, Advantix, or Advantage for Cats and you want to apply the product monthly from spring to winter.

The second step is to treat your surroundings. Your best friend in this endeavor is your vacuum cleaner. However you must vacuum daily and dispose of the bag or the canister’s contents outside each time that you vacuum. Vacuuming triggers the eggs to hatch, and allows you to collect living fleas, larva, and pupae, so you want to make sure that you don’t let you vacuum become a hatching ground for the next round of fleas. If your problem is intense enough you may need you use a premise spray to actually kill the bugs that may be living and breeding in your house.

You may also find that you need to use a yard treatment to control fleas being imported by other animals in the area, such as stray dogs or cats, raccoons, or foxes. Some cats react badly to Permethrins, so you want to choose a product that does not contain this chemical.

You can win this battle. Just choose the right products and use them properly.

If you have questions, we’re here to help.

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