Everyone dreads and dislikes fleas! These little parasites of pets, which go by the scientific name Ctenocephalides canis (or Ctenocephalides felis), are a common source of dismay to pet owners and for pets themselves. To make matters worse, fleas can live in our climate year round as we don’t really have a “flea season” like colder places do.
Going by my experience of treating pets with flea problems, pets suffer from more flea infestations and related problems during our colder months because of the decreased flea control by pet owners.
Preventing fleas from gaining access to your house through your pet is generally straightforward, as many safe and effective flea control products are available in pill form and in the form of topical drops to be applied on your pets’ back. It is a whole another story once they gain access into our warm, comfortable homes.
Fleas are very hardy, as they do not need a constant source of feeding on animal blood. Their eggs and larvae can survive for months even without the presence of an animal to feed on.
To confound matters, fleas are not easy to find on pets. If you cannot find fleas on an itchy cat or dog, the pet could still be suffering from flea-bites and even from an allergy to flea-bites. Another flea-based hazard to consider is the introduction of an intestinal worm, tapeworm, to your pet through infected fleas.
In order to get rid of fleas on a pet, strong yet safe anti-parasitic treatments are required along with environmental and laundry cleaning for a period of weeks to months. Environmental cleaning helps decrease the numbers of flea eggs and larval stages that habitually live in homes of pets with fleas. Aggressive and persistent flea control ensures that these robust little bugs do not linger in your pets’ environment.
The best ways to deal with fleas is to prevent them from becoming a problem! Year-round flea control for all pets, including during the winter time, is something all pets should receive.
Caution: Some flea treatments available for pets may be toxic to your pet. Always consult with your veterinarian regarding appropriate products, in order to ensure your pets’ health.
By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner
Dr. Jangi Bajwa is a Board certified veterinary dermatologist at VetDERM Clinic in Surrey BC. He is also the dermatology feature editor for Canadian Veterinary Journal. Dr. Bajwa’s special interests include otitis and allergic disease in pets; as well as helping improve quality of life of pets and their families.