Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flea Season

The past few weeks, I have seen flea cases nearly once to multiple times a day. This is the height of flea season. The wetter it is, the happier they seem. In reality, though, the problem lies in how persistent the little buggers are in the environment.

Cat flea life cycle
The flea egg can survive in the environment for a long time - months and more. This is why someone can rent an apartment or home that's been vacant for a time and suddenly find their pet has fleas. Fleas sense the carbon dioxide we exhale and the humidity that living beings bring into the environment.  

The can also lay a tremendous number of eggs, causing an infestation in a short time. The other thing to note is that the live fleas seen on your pet represent only 5% of total flea population in the one flea CAN mean a big problem.

Fleas are easy to prevent with some excellent, safe products. I personally recommend Revolution for cats and Vectra for dogs. For pets that are infested with live fleas, Capstar works for 24 hours to kill any live fleas and help bring some immediate relief. This tablet CAN be given once a day for a long time but there is also a product called Comfortis that works the same way. ALL pets in the household must be treated for this to be a successful elimination of these pests.

 It is also critical to treat the environment. Bombs are not recommended as fleas prefer dark environments (ie, under the furniture). Bombs lay a mist on horizontal surfaces. Sprays and simple vacuuming/washing of bedding, etc, work best. 

The interesting thing is that very often we find fleas or flea dirt (flea feces = digested blood) on "indoor only" pets including cats that live alone. This is why it is critical for veterinarians to flea comb EVERY patient that comes in to the office. 

Fleas can and do carry some nasty organisms that cause disease, some of which are zoonotic (think "cat scratch fever") and in many animals their saliva induces an allergic reaction, resulting in intense itching and secondary bacterial infections (called Flea Allergy Dermatitis - or FAD).

If you keep your pet on a monthly, YEAR round preventative, you are much less likely to encounter this as a major problem. Year round is key - the weather and conditions vary so much from year to year. Missing one month can make a difference.

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