Fleas

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

Nobody wants to think about bugs crawling around on their pet, but it’s important to know what to do in the event you find fleas. Read on for more information about why fleas are a threat to our pets, what to do if you find fleas on your pet, and how to prevent fleas altogether!


What is a flea?

A flea is a small parasite that lives on animals and feeds on the blood of their host. There are many different species of fleas, but the one that pet owners should be concerned about is Ctenocephalides felis, or the Cat Flea. Contrary to what the name might imply, this type of flea is not only a threat to cats, but to dogs, rabbits, and other small mammals, too.

Why should I be worried about fleas?

There are a number of health issues that pets can suffer from as a result of a flea infestation. Since fleas suck their host’s blood for nutrients, untreated flea infestations can result in anemia, which can be life-threatening. While small in size, fleas reproduce quickly and can quickly overwhelm their hosts by taking their nutrients.


Additionally, the presence of fleas can cause health issues such as flea allergy dermatitis and tapeworm infection. Flea allergy dermatitis often involves severe itching, excessive scratching, and hair loss, and is caused by an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva.


A tapeworm is an intestinal parasite that is caused by the consumption of a flea. While a pet does not necessarily have to be actively infested to consume a flea, the most common ways fleas are consumed is by pet’s licking or chewing themselves. This type of tapeworm is different than the tapeworm that affects the digestive system in humans, and you cannot get tapeworms from your pet.


How can I tell if my pet has fleas?

The easiest way to check for fleas is to comb through your pet’s hair and look for flea dirt. Flea dirt is dried blood that appears on an infected pet’s skin as tiny black specks. Pets with more severe infestations are likely to have more flea dirt. Owners of pets with dark fur may have a harder time finding flea dirt. You can also look for fleas, which can sometimes be tricky since they move fast. A large number of visible fleas are often indicative of a severe infestation.


Are fleas harmful or contagious to humans?

Humans are not optimal hosts for fleas and fleas don’t like to live on human skin. However, if they are dislodged from their four-legged host, fleas can bite humans. Flea saliva can cause itching and skin irritation when it comes into contact with human skin.


What should I do if I notice fleas on my pet?

Give your vet a call, so you can get your pet started on flea prevention ASAP. Flea prevention will treat a current infestation while preventing future infestations. Flea prevention comes in both oral and topical forms. If you have other pets in the household, it is strongly recommended that they be started on flea prevention, as well.


We recently had our yard treated for fleas. Does my pet still need to be on prevention?

Yard treatments can be somewhat helpful in minimizing the risk of your pet becoming infested in their own backyard, but it is still not a guarantee. Treating your yard for fleas is far more effective in preventing flea infestations when used in addition to monthly prevention.


My cat is indoor only and never goes outside. Why does my cat need prevention?

Did you know it is actually extremely common for indoor only cats to suffer from flea infestation? While your cat may not go outdoors, fleas can be brought in on shoes, clothing, and other pets that go outside. Because fleas are so small in size, it would be nearly impossible to know when a flea was being brought in from the outside. It only takes one female flea to lay eggs on your indoor cat to create an infestation. Because most cats are excellent groomers and ingest fleas as they groom, it is likely that you wont see the adult fleas until there is an infestation.


Revolution, the flea preventative recommended for cats, does more than just fight off fleas. Revolution will also protect your feline friend from heartworms, ticks, mites, and more!


Can I give my pet a flea bath instead of giving monthly prevention?

Monthly prevention is more effective and reliable than a flea bath, and provides the benefit of ongoing protection. For example, a flea bath will not be effective if your home is still contaminated with fleas. Prevention, on the other hand, will kill any fleas that jump on or bite your pet, ending the flea life cycle.


What are my options for monthly flea prevention?

For dogs, we recommend giving Nexgard on a regular basis for the treatment and prevention of fleas and ticks. Nexgard is a chewable tablet given once monthly, and is often used in conjunction with Heartgard, which prevents heartworms and intestinal parasites. Alternatively, topical treatments like Frontline and Revolution can also be used to treat and prevent fleas.


For cats, we recommend Revolution. Giving monthly prevention labeled for dogs to a cat can be fatal, and special care should be taken to avoid mixing up the two if both cats and dogs reside in your home. Revolution is applied once monthly to the base of the neck and is extremely effective in treating and preventing fleas and ticks in cats.



If you have any additional questions about fleas or would like an estimate for the cost of monthly flea prevention, please give us a call at 972-347-6100 and a member of our staff will be happy to assist you!

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