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Tip of the Month

8/12/2008 Flea Control - Shut Down the Circus in your Home

Do you have a flea problem in your home that just won’t go away? Do you seem to keep treating your pets (following the advice of your veterinarian or their assistant) but never seem to stop the prolific infestation of fleas?

Here are some facts and tips to help you plan an attack that will shut down that flea circus in 24 hours.

A flea has four stages in its life. First, fleas are laid in eggs which hatch into larvae. The larvae resemble tiny maggots and within a week build a protective cocoon around themselves. Once in this cocoon state, they are called pupae. The pupae can remain in this stage until warm, moist conditions are present (up to a year) which are necessary for them to hatch into adult fleas. Adult fleas live up to two years, and an adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs every 24 to 48 hours, totaling up to 1,000 eggs in her lifetime.

Fleas can transport themselves from one animal to another by walking, jumping, or being transported by a host. They feed off the blood of pets, with the female flea consuming up to 15 times its own body weight of your pet’s blood each day. Young puppies and kittens can develop “flea anemia” if the infestation is out of control, which can lead to death within a day or two. Graduates of veterinary and veterinary assistant schools can explain the graveness of this disease.

Adequate flea control involves the following steps:
• Removing fleas from the inside of your house
• Removing fleas from the outside areas surrounding your house
• Removing fleas from your pets
• Using preventative flea control products on your pets

A treatment program should be planned and executed within a 24-hour period with help from professionals (such as your veterinarian, anyone who has attended an accredited veterinary assistant school, etc.). Since fleas do not live on your pets (they usually just jump on for a meal), they will live and lay their eggs in your carpets, curtains, bedding, throw rugs, and areas around the house where your pets sleep, such as dog beds.

In the morning, take your pets to the veterinarian for a flea bath or flea dip by a veterinary assistant (whichever your veterinarian recommends) and leave them there for the day.

Then, treat the indoor environment with the proper amount of flea bombs or flea foggers. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, treat the outside environment with a pesticide spray that includes agents that kill fleas specifically. Be sure to spray kennel areas and any warm, moist areas in the grass and/or dirt where your pets play or lay. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Many pest control companies can be hired to spray the indoor and outdoor environments for you if you do not want to do this yourself.

Lastly, ask your veterinarian about topical flea products that will kill the flea when it bites, or internal flea growth regulation medications that cause the female fleas to lay only sterile eggs when feeding off your pet.

The best plan for flea control is prevention before the problem becomes dangerous to your pet’s health and well-being. It is important to keep your pets protected all year ‘round. Remember that prevention is crucial in keeping the flea circus from setting up and thriving in your home!

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