Getting Rid of Dog and Cat Fleas
Getting Rid of Dog and Cat Fleas
By Mary-Jane Gallagher
Pet ownership in South Africa is on the rise, and with so many dogs and cats around, flea infestations are a common problem that pet owners face throughout the spring and fall months. That’s why it’s important to regularly treat your dog’s or cat’s environment, otherwise you’ll miss more than 90% of the developing flea population, making the infestation even worse. When fleas start showing up in your home, you need to be ready to fight and manage the infestation. If you allow them to thrive, you’ll have a lot of trouble getting rid of them. For those who love sharing a bed with their dog, the first priority should be ensuring that your pets are free of any pests.
Find Out How the Fleas Came In
Just like any pest infestation, your first goal is to find out how the dog or cat fleas came in. While it’s true that most fleas come in on animals, you could possibly bring in the bugs yourself, especially if you handled a flea-infested animal. However, flea infestations can also happen when a wild animal, like a raccoon, takes up residence in your property. Finding the source of the problem will help you get rid of the flea infestation more effectively. For wild animals, you should call a pest removal or animal control specialist to remove them humanely. For dogs and cats, treat them with insect growth regulators recommended by your vet. For humans, you can use a round of insect repellent DEET and a cold shower.
Clean Your House and Yard
Fleas easily jump from host to host, and end up laying many eggs in the process. They also come with the risk of transmitting diseases like plague, and can be a huge threat to the overall well-being of your dogs and cats. One of the most effective ways of getting rid of cat and dog fleas is to clean all areas in your home, including the yard. The first line of defense lies in using a flea bomb. While this is one of the easiest ways to get rid of fleas, thoroughly vacuuming and steaming all corners of your home is highly recommended.
Also, remember to treat your movable furniture and give your rugs and curtains a good shampooing, and any other dark place where you could find concentrations of fleas. For your yard, keep the grass short and trees trimmed, clear away any debris that may offer a dark and humid space that encourages flea growth, and treat any shady and warm spots your dog or cat likes to hang out with flea spray.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Dogs and cats with flea infestations will not hide their discomfort. There will be extra scratching, licking and biting at the skin in an attempt to soothe the itch. If the infestation has been there for awhile, you’ll notice scabs or even red bite marks on your pet’s skin, or even patches where there should be hair growth. Dogs can get fleas from cats and vice versa. Even a small house mouse can be the source of infestation. If you’re not sure about flea infestation in your dog or cat, diagnosis is best done by giving them a bath.
Once your dog or cat is fully wet, look out for small fleas jumping all over – fleas don’t like water. Examining your dog’s or cat’s fur using a comb can also help you identify infestation. Treatment is best done from both the inside and the outside. Treatment options include medicated shampoos, homemade remedies like apple-cider-vinegar, flea repellent collars and other medicines. Make sure to consult your vet on the safety of medication used.
It’s important to understand that most medications offered by your vet will kill fleas on and near your pet’s fur. To win the war against any form of infestation, you should focus thoroughly on cleaning all the surfaces and fabric that your dog or cat touches. For fabrics, use very hot water and quality detergent. Flea infestations can be uncomfortable, but are easy to prevent. With a little patience and the right treatment strategy, you can get rid of these little bloodsuckers.