With spring coming up (keep your fingers crossed), one of the top issues on everyone’s minds is fleas! They are the bane of every pet owner’s existence. Once your pet gets fleas, they are very hard to get rid of, and they can cause a multitude of health issues that will make you and your pet miserable.
Fleas are tiny little parasites that feed on blood. This may cause a small, red, itchy bump, which is a reaction to the saliva of the flea. Some animals are more reactive, or allergic, than others, and in severe cases we can see a pet get a host of skin issues from just one flea bite. This will cause poor Fluffy to itch, which in turn can lead to hair loss and skin infections. Also, fleas can transmit other parasites to your pets. The first one that comes to mind are tapeworms. Apparently, tapeworm eggs are considered a delicacy to flea larva. Once they are eaten, the tapeworm eggs begin to grow in the flea’s stomach. And if Fluffy happens to swallow a flea who has been feasting on tapeworms while grooming….you guessed it, Fluffy will get tapeworms too. You may see evidence of this by seeing little “grains of rice” in their stool. These are actually tapeworm segments, which contain hundreds of tapeworm eggs. I know, pretty gross. What’s even worse is that people can get these too, especially children, from accidentally swallowing a flea while petting Fluffy or coming into contact with infested stool and not washing your hands. One last thing I want to let you know is fleas carry a variety of illnesses that can be transmitted to humans. I know y’all have heard of the Plague, right? Did you know the Plague was caused by a species of flea that fed on infected rats? They then bit humans and the rest is history.
So, what to do? Well, like my mom always says, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Prevention is the key. In the South, your pet should be on flea preventative all year round. Our winters are not long enough or cold enough to control the flea population alone. We have so many options available today to help you protect your pet. They range from topical to oral, and you can either get them combined with heartworm preventative (another topic for discussion later) or alone. Please beware to buy a species-specific flea preventative as the medications used to control fleas in dogs is very toxic to cats. Also, I would caution you against buying over the counter flea products as several of them have been known to cause severe reactions in animals. Your best bet is to contact our office for recommendations.
Just remember to continue to keep your pet protected year round! Call any of the friendly staff at West Marietta Veterinary Clinic (770-439-1994) or West Cobb Veterinary Clinic (770-439-1996) with any questions you may have!