September 17, 2010
How to Avoid or Get Rid of Fleas on Your Pet
Fleas. Even saying the word makes us itch. These tiny creatures can make your pet miserable, and in turn make you miserable. Plus, once they latched on to your pet and made a home in your house, they are very hard to get rid of. Bottom line, fleas are a pain.
DogWatch Hidden Fences want to help you avoid this pain by providing the following tips to avoid or get rid of fleas on your pet and in your home. Early fall is the peak of flea season, so we encourage you to follow our three easy steps right away!
Getting rid of fleas on your pet and in your house can be a long, challenging and expensive process – so why not avoid them all together? There are several widely-available flea prevention products that you can use monthly to protect your pet from fleas.
The most popular prevention product, Frontline, is available for cats and dogs, and can be found at your vet or your local pet superstore. It is a gel that is applied in between the pet’s shoulder blades, so that the pet won’t lick it off. The product then seeps into the pet’s oil glands under his skin, and is distributed throughout his hair. This creates an inhospitable environment for fleas, and causes them to literally “flee” the pet and stay away for a full month. Frontline also works on ticks – so you get twice the power!
K9 Advantix (for dogs only) and Advantage (for dogs and cats) are two other, similar flea prevention products that perform largely the same function using a different chemicals. (A side-by-side-by-side comparison can be found here.) As always, talk to your vet about what is best for your animals.
A couple of things to note about these products: 1) they are approved for cats and dogs as young as 8 weeks, and 2) it is recommended that you do not bathe the pet within two days before or two days after the product is applied, to ensure that the chemical is properly distributed.
Products like Frontline are powerful prevention tools, but what if you are already seeing fleas on your pet or in your home? In that case, we advise you to clean, then clean again! Your vacuum is your strongest weapon in this battle. Upon first site of fleas, vacuum all areas that the pets frequent, especially flea-friendly areas like couches, rugs and other napping spots. Continue to vacuum everyday, and be sure to clean out the vacuum bag each time, as fleas can easily escape even after they are sucked up into the machine.
The next step is to clean your pet’s bedding thoroughly and regularly. If your pet sleeps on your bed, throw your sheets and throws into the wash as well.
Finally, bathe your pet weekly until fleas disappear (making sure to avoid baths too close to prevention product application). Use a flea shampoo to kill any adult fleas on the pet, and comb the pet’s fur in the bath to capture any remaining fleas. In between baths, bring out the flea comb again, and search for fleas in your pet’s fur (hot spots are the head and rear). Keep a bowl of soapy water nearby, and dunk all fleas you capture on the comb into the water. They will not survive in the water long, and can be quickly disposed of after you’re done.
In addition to being proactive and keeping things clean, be sure to keep a close eye on your pet throughout the flea season. Is your pet itching more than usual? Are you seeing flea dust (tiny black specks of dirt) left behind when you pet gets up from a nap? Are you noticing worms in your dog’s stool? All these things are signs of a flea infestation.
If you see these things, schedule an appointment with your vet and pick up the flea comb yourself to see if you spot them. Also keep an eye out for more serious potential reactions from your pet. If you are seeing generalized hair loss, scabs and excessive itching, you pet may be having an allergic reaction to the fleas. If you pet has pale gums, has a cold body temperature and is generally listless, it may be parasitic anemia. Both conditions are serious (especially for young animals), and any affected pet should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.
Fleas are tough creatures – the key to getting rid of them is to be tougher than they are. Be vigilant, be proactive and be knowledgeable – with these tools in your arsenal, you can win the battle against those tiny, tricky bugs!
Did we miss anything, loyal readers? Share your own flea prevention tips and tales on this blog, or on our Facebook page.
Dog Photo by Lee J. Haywood via Flickr.
Flea Photo from Frontline website.