Summer is almost over, but this doesn’t mean we can become relaxed about our flea control regime. With our warm and cozy centrally heated homes, fleas have become a year-round problem. Our toasty warm homes allow flea eggs to survive in carpet, and then hatch when their time has come.
Fleas are the bane of every pet owner’s existence. These tiny parasites love to live on your pet, often hiding out in his coat. And in addition to causing him to itch and self-traumatize his skin, they can also jump onto you and bite your skin too (although they don’t actually live on people). These reasons alone are enough to motivate you to start a flea control regime as soon as possible!
How to get rid of fleas
Since the flea’s life cycle involves time spent on and off the animal’s body, it’s important to remember that both your pet and his surroundings must be treated in order to gain control. Both cases tend to involve a two-sided approach.
First, a physical assault aims to reduce the number of actual fleas and eggs around and requires some manual labor on your part! For your pet – a hair cut if he has long hair, a bath using a flea and tick shampoo, grooming with a brush or flea comb. For his surroundings – vacuum carpets, furniture and his bed, and wash any bedding material that he is in contact with.
Second, a follow-up chemical attack aims to target any remaining lingering offenders and guard against any others jumping on the bandwagon. Some kind of insect repellent treatment needs to be used. Various types exist for both your pet and the environment, ranging from natural therapies to prescription medicines that can only be dispensed by a veterinarian. So there are numerous options available, depending on your preferences.
This combination of treatments should greatly reduce the risk of flea infestations. If, however, your pet continues to have itchiness and skin problems even once his flea control regime is underway, this may indicate flea allergy dermatitis. This is an allergy to flea saliva that can cause a vicious cycle of itching and self-trauma with progressive skin damage. If you suspect this, be sure to have your pet checked by a veterinarian so that the appropriate treatment can be used to help break the cycle.Written by Dr. Parry ©August 24, 2011
Dr. Parry is a veterinarian working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.