Flea infestations are annoying for dogs and cats and humans, but they can also be very dangerous. Problems caused by fleas may range from mild to severe itching and discomfort to skin problems and infections. Anemia may result from flea bites in extreme circumstances and fleas can also transmit tapeworms and diseases to pets.
When animals are troubled by fleas, they scratch and bite themselves, especially in areas such as the head, neck, and around the tail. Fleas normally concentrate in such areas. This incessant scratching and biting may cause the animal’s skin to become red and inflamed.
Flea allergy dermatitis is developed by those animals allergic to flea saliva. In this case, the symptoms previously mentioned are more pronounced. Because of compulsive scratching and biting, the animal may lose hair, get bald spots, exhibit hot spots due to extreme irritation, and develop infections that result in smelly skin.
Removing the fleas from the pet may be the easiest and simplest step given the many products especially designed to kill fleas available on the market which are designed not only to kill fleas, but also to offer protection from further infestations. Flea-control products are available in once-a-month topicals, collars, sprays, dips, powders, shampoos, and injectable and oral products. All these products contain an insecticide as an active ingredient which kills the fleas when coming into contact with them. Fleas absorb the insecticide which either paralyzes them or kills them.
Preventing and controlling flea infestations is a multi-step process. Every female flea on the pet is likely to have laid eggs in the environment in which the pet lives therefore, effective prevention and control of flea infestations implies having removed the fleas from indoor environments, from all pets, and keeping immature forms of fleas from developing. This can be done indoors thorough vacuuming, especially in places where fleas are more likely to be found, such as below curtains, the place where the pet sleeps, and under furniture edges. Vacuuming can remove an estimated 50% of flea eggs. After vacuuming, using a specially designed product is recommended to kill the remaining fleas and to stop the development of eggs and larvae. Products for this purpose can be purchased from good pet stores and your vet.
Special attention should be paid to the pet’s bedding. This should be washed every week; also the bed and surrounding areas should be treated with household flea products. Cleaning should be done at the same time in the cars, pet carrier, or any other place where the dog is known to spend time.
The best we can hope for is to keep on top of the problem, but sadly fleas cannot be eradicated!