The warmer weather is here along with those pesky little fleas. Fleas can be present year round but prefer warm and moist environments. There are over 2000 species of fleas worldwide. In the U.S. alone there are over 200 different types. The cat flea (ctenocephalides felis) and the dog Flea (ctenocehalides canis) are the two most common types. The cat flea, surprisingly, is the type that is most commonly found in the US. The dog flea is not commonly found in the US; it is native to Europe. The cat flea, however, does not discriminate between dogs and cats; both are fair game to this pesky little creature.
- This flea is capable of jumping 14 to 16 inches and will bite humans as well.
- Female fleas can lay eggs 48 hours after biting your pet.
- Fleas in rare cases do carry disease and if swallowed can cause tapeworms.
What can be done to prevent these little creatures and what are the signs that your pet has fleas?
Symptoms of fleas
Each pet will react differently when carrying fleas, so you might see any combination of the following signs:
- Your pet scratching and biting at its skin more often
- Red inflamed lumps, skin lesions, ulcers and loss of coat due to the increased scratching and biting
- Excessive grooming or licking is soothing behavior
- Look for flea feces (aka flea dirt) in your pet’s coat and in your pet’s favorite sleeping places. Flea feces appear to look like a small piece of dirt. If you take this dirt and rub it between your fingers with some water and it turns red, you have your proof. Flea feces contain dried blood.
Treatment and Prevention of Fleas
Listed below are some common preventive steps, along with some flea treatments, should the fleas “fall through the cracks” of the prevention. There are a variety of different methods available today. It’s best to discuss all your options with your veterinarian first. Below are some commonly used methods:
Topical Treatments: These treatments are available through your veterinarian. Generally, they are highly effective and applied between the dog’s shoulder blades once a month.
Oral Medication: Pills are normally prescribed by your veterinarian and given orally to your pet once a month.
Flea Shampoo/Bathing/Dips: Flea shampoo can be purchased over the counter and/or from your veterinarian; it is highly recommended that you follow your veterinarian’s advice when purchasing these shampoos. Regular baths by you and or a groomer can help treat and prevent fleas from spreading. Most flea dips are performed at the veterinary office and are generally done once fleas are discovered on your pet.
When trying to decide which flea treatment and prevention program is best for you and your pet, please speak with your veterinarian. The AKC Pet Healthcare plan understands that monthly flea prevention adds up and we have two plans that offer flea preventative benefits, the Wellness Plan and Wellness Plus Plan. Please visit our website at www.akcpethealthcare.com or contact customer service at 1.866.725.2747.