Most of us realize how lucky we are to live in Washington — clean air, amazing recreational choices, and excellent schools. The winters dump snow in the mountains for us to play on, but the temperatures during those days don’t typically ensure that there are very few creatures alive in the summertime to plague our furry friends.
Western Washington’s flea problems are relatively mild compared to other parts of the country, where you wouldn’t even consider letting your dog or cat outside without the proper prevention, but we do have fleas around here, and the unlucky dogs and cats that get them can bring those little hitchhikers right indoors, resulting in problems for all concerned.
Fleas can jump incredible distances given their size, and they use this amazing power to launch themselves onto the nearest warm body they detect walking by. Once on the “host”, as the unlucky dog or cat that serves as the flea’s buffet is known, a flea makes itself at home by biting the host and sucking many blood meals from it. It’s these blood meals that allow the female flea to produce offspring, which they do right on the host. It’s easy to see how one flea can quickly create a large problem for a dog or cat that is unprotected from them.
Just like a lot of other insect bites, the lesion caused by the bite of the flea is itchy. Dogs and cats that are infested by fleas chew and scratch at themselves for relief. When animals do this, they may actually ingest the fleas, and because fleas carry tapeworms inside them, the poor dog or cat now has not only itchy flea bites on the outside to deal with but a nasty parasite on the inside as well.
Luckily, if you’re paying attention, it’s not hard to see that your pet has fleas. Part the fur in multiple places and look for little specks that look like ground black pepper. You can easily comb your pet with a special comb designed to pull this “flea dirt” and the fleas out of the fur (the teeth of the comb are set very close together). When you put the pepper-like specks on a piece of wet paper towel they will turn a rusty-brown color, because they are in fact blood from the flea’s meal.
There’s no good reason why any dog or cat should have fleas in this day and age. A myriad of products in many forms – sprays, top-spot applicators, and monthly chewable tablets – exists to keep your pet flea-free, should you find you have a problem. It’s extremely important to only use flea products labeled for the pet you are using them for, as using the wrong product or an inappropriate dose can make your pet very sick. And don’t forget to treat the inside of the house for fleas, in order to keep the problem from recurring.
Written By Dr. Shana Kitchen – Veterinarian at Jet City Animal Clinic
How to Inspect your Home for Fleas
SOURCE: thanks to Solutions Pest & Lawn
Step 1: Start With Your Pets – Fleas usually first get into the home via your pets. Your pet may have come from outside and brought along fleas. If your pet has been scratching themselves more than usual and has been irritable, you will want to do a thorough inspection of your pet for fleas first before moving onto your home. Run a flea comb through your pet and see if you can catch fleas in it.
Step 2: Check Carpets and Rugs – Carefully check your carpeting and rugs. Fleas are so small that they often can get away with hiding deep into carpeting. Fleas also like to lay eggs in carpets and this is also where flea larvae is often discovered. Run your hands over the carpet and rug fibers and try to look for evidence of flea eggs or adult fleas themselves. Seeing anything may be difficult but there is a special trick you can do to see things a little more clearly. Get yourself some white socks and put them on. Walk around your home especially over the carpeted areas. Adult fleas will jump onto your socks if they are present. Something you can do to attract them and entice them to jump up onto you is be shuffling your feet. This friction will create heat which will attract the fleas. Next grab a flashlight and check your socks for fleas. They will be easier to spot because of the white socks you have on. They will look like black or brown specks that can easily be detected.
Step 3: Look For Flea Dirt – Flea dirt is flea fecal matter that looks like specks of dirt or black pepper. Look for it around your floor or carpeting, particularly around areas where your pets sleep. Check their bedding and crates and scan for live fleas and flea dirt. You should also check your couches and other upholstered furniture where your pets lounge around for evidence of flea dirt. If you see some specks but aren’t sure they are flea dirt, putting them in water and checking the color will be useful. Flea dirt turns reddish when placed in water.
Step 4: Check Around Your Yard – Fleas came from outdoors so it makes sense to check outside around your yard where your pet was frolicking around for evidence of fleas. Using the sock trick we talked about, walk around your yard, focusing particularly in the more shaded and moist areas outdoor since this is where the like to hang out, away from sunlight. Also check under and around trees, bush area, your patio and around your deck and any place where there is leaf litter.