Except for a few states/provinces lucky enough to escape, fleas are a problem for most pets. In some southern and western states, fleas are battled year round. However, for most of the continental United States and Canada, fleas really begin to torment pets in the late summer and fall.
Sensing their demise with the first killing frost, fleas begin seeking a warm body on which to exist. Your pet may become one of their unlucky candidates.
With your peace of mind shattered by your pet’s incessant scratching and biting, you may be tempted to call a professional exterminator. However, armed with the latest flea killing products and an understanding of the flea’s life cycle, you can take care of this problem yourself.
Does my pet have fleas?
If you suspect fleas, roll your pet over and search through the hair slowly on the belly and inner thigh areas. Another favorite spot is the back near the base of the tail.
There are at least 2000 species of fleas. The common pet flea is a tiny, dark, fast moving insect with a shiny hard body. You don’t have to actually see a flea to know it’s on your pet. Black specks, that look like pepper, are proof positive. These specks are flea dirt or feces. Not flea eggs.
A Flea’s Life.....
Adult fleas lay their eggs in floor, bedding and carpeting. With favourable weather conditions, new fleas break out every ten to fourteen days. Interrupting this cycle is the key.
Fleas begin their lives as a pearl-white oval egg about the size of an adult flea’s head. The egg can take up to a week to hatch into a larva. This stage takes from nine to 200 days. The larva then spins a cocoon in which it rests for seven days to a year.
The flea is a hungry adult when it emerges from the cocoon. This is the time when the flea enjoys the hospitality of your pet.
Fleas are not only a nuisance, but can pose a threat to the health of your pet. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae from an infected animal to another. Untreated, tapeworm infestation sucks the reserves of a healthy animal leaving its prey to numerous diseases.
Allergy to the flea bite is another real problem. When a flea takes its ration of blood, it leaves behind saliva containing itch-causing enzymes and other compounds which causes a hypersensitive reaction in some pets. This reaction exhibits itself by red, sore itchy skin and mild to severe hair loss.
When will it all end.....
The first killing frost should take care of the problem outside, but those that remain on your pet will probably take up housekeeping quite nicely inside your home. Extermination is a three-fold process. You must treat the pet, the yard and your home to be really successful.
Your extermination program should begin with a professional grooming, including a flea shampoo. Be sure to notify your groomer if your pet is on oral systemic flea protection, such as Sentanol. Insecticide intoxication can result with pets taking this prescription medication. Extreme caution must be exercised.
While your pet is with the groomer, spray under the seats and carpeting of your car with a spray insecticide that says it will “kill fleas.” If the spray doesn’t say that, it probably won’t. Fleas are hearty lot and require specific insecticides to deal with them.
Now, you are ready to treat the house. Wash or spray your pet’s bedding and sprinkle some flea powder under the cushions of its bed.
Though not essential, a vacuuming of your home can be very helpful. Eggs and larvae inhabit the dust of vacuum cleaner bags. You will want to remove all vacuum cleaner bags and replace with ones in which you have placed a teaspoon of flea powder, moth balls or flakes. This will continue to kill eggs larva and fleas that are vacuumed.
Spray around each room concentrating on baseboards, cracks and crevices of flooring and under furniture. Spray basements, crawl spaces and closets. Fleas exist in these areas even though your pet is never there.
Keep people and pets out of treated areas for a few hours after spraying. To avoid breathing fumes, treat your living areas before retiring at night, and spray your bedrooms in the morning. You will need to spray your home once every 5 – 7 days for a total of three to four treatments.
About five days after the professional grooming and flea bath procedure, see your vet for a flea prevention product.
Flea powder or spray may be substituted with equal success. Often a combination, or change of products works well. Fleas become resistant to sustained use of the same insecticides. Caution – cats must have specially formulated products.
Long Term Success....
For long term success, you may want to treat your yard with insect control formulas sold in most garden departments.
To get maximum benefit from your efforts, quality products are essential. Your pet care professional is one of your best sources for product information in your area.