It’s spring and this means that fleas are back. Although fleas can be a year round problem, the warmer months prove to be especially annoying.
How to find out if your pet has fleas
Black specks on your pet or in your dog’s bed may be “flea dirt” – the fecal matter from adult fleas. There are two easy ways to check for black specks:
- Run a flea comb over your pet, making sure the comb reaches the skin through the coat. If you find black specks are on the comb when you pull it off that is small and brittle and curly, then it is probably flea dirt. If fleas are on the comb, drown them in a bowl of soapy water before they can get away or jump back on your pet. A soup bowl of warm water and dish soap does the trick. You can get a flea comb from your local pet store, the metal ones work best.
- If your pet isn’t one for being brushed, then place a white paper towel under your pet and rub the fur, ruffle the fur, and pet him/her. If black spots fall onto the paper towel, it’s probably flea dirt.
So, now what?
When you discover fleas on your pet, your home is also home to fleas. There are most liklely eggs, larvae, and baby fleas in the areas where your pet hangs out the most. To combat the possible infestation, try the following tips:
- Use flea preventative on your pet which can be purchased from your vet or the local pet store. Brands like Advantage or Frontline are safe to use as long as you follow the instructions. This will kill the adult fleas on your pet and may also help kill the newly hatched ones that bite your pet. It can take anywhere from 1 month to 4 months to completely eradicate fleas from the home.
- Prevent further infestation of the home. Flea pupae are protected by their cocoons – all pupae will have to hatch out and be killed as adult fleas on the pet. It can take weeks for all pupae to hatch from an infested environment. If undisturbed, pupae can exist for many months in the environment, which is why regular flea treatment are important in helping to rid a home of an infestation.
- Be sure to treat all dogs and cats.
- Vacuum the areas your pet is around, especially carpeted areas in your home, furniture, and your car if your pet rides in there often. Empty the contens of your vaccum into the garbage outside of the house.
- Wash everything, especially your pet’s bedding to get rid of eggs that might be laying in there. If your pet likes to sleep on your bed, wash the blankets, comforter, and sheets. Change them more often and make it your mission to make it impossible for fleas to “set up camp” in your house.
- Mow your lawn and keep the yard clean to prevent areas where fleas may live.
It can be a pain to stay on top of this stuff but once you start seeing that your pet isn’t scracthing as much, your stuff doesn’t have little black specks of flea dirt, and you’re not wondering if there’s fleas in your socks… you’ll be glad you worked this hard.
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Image from Warrenphotographic