FLEAS! Dun dun dun…..

It’s summertime & the fleas are THRIVING this year!

If you are seeing your pet itching, scratching, or nibbling on themselves excessively or even just a little more than usual- especially in their hind end/belly region- do not hesitate to suspect that it is probably fleas!

One might be surprised how often we hear at the vet clinic “My pet never gets fleas.” Unless your pet lives in a bubble, there is a GREAT chance that it will pick up fleas at some point if he or she hasn’t already. Unfortunate for us pet owners, fleas LOVE Santa Barbara just as much as everyone else who lives here. They THRIVE here, and they ARE everywhere! The climate allows them to live all year round here in the SB area, their population escalating in the summertime due to the heat & animal activity. Fleas are more common than you may think, & as soon as one hops onto your pet’s back the infestation begins. As long as you keep your pet protected you can ward off the potential disaster they WILL cause you, your pet, and your home.

A flea check can be as simple as running your fingers through your pets fur & examining closely. Fleas are tiny but you will be able to see them. If you don’t see an actual flea running past, be attentive to look for “flea dirt” which is actually flea poop (blood) & flea EGGS! Flea dirt looks like salt & pepper. If your pet is infested, you would see flea dirt in their fur….And if your HOME is infested, you will see flea dirt around the house as well, especially any areas your pet likes to hang out!

Be aware that if your pet has fleas, they are most definitely in your home as well. Infested pets are like flea egg salt shakers. If you have an infestation, start off with the least harmful methods of control. Vacuum as thoroughly as possible, and as often as possible- at least daily for a week. If that doesnt seem to make a significant difference you should get a little more aggressive and reach for the products. Unfortunately, most of these products contain chemicals & pesticides. They are “safe” but I think the best route is to try and get the situation under control in the most environmentally-friendly way possible first. If the fleas are just way too out of hand though, you gotta do what you gotta do. A product I have been successful with in the past is Fleabusters brand “Rx For Fleas Plus Flea Powder” Their website is: www.fleabuster.com . There you will find all of the information regarding the product and also exactly how to apply it. The jist of it is you dust/spread/sweep it all around your house and then vacuum it up. The powder remains in all the cracks & crevices & continues to work & kill off fleas in all of their life stages (egg, larva, pupae & adult fleas). Be sure to treat your home, focusing on where your pets like to hangout and sleep, your bedding, even the under the rugs and couch cushions. If you don’t treat your home, your pet will keep getting re-infested and the cycle may NEVER end!!!

Fleas are nasty. They are bloodsucking parasites who take over your beloved animals bodies & then spread into the comfort of your home & then will even start to feed off of YOU! Fleas can also transmit disease, bacteria, and tapeworms. Gross! Fleas are not just a nusance but are actually detrimental to your pet’s health and over-all wellbeing.

It happens to the best of us though, if not all of us. If your pet gets fleas, it doesn’t make you a bad pet owner. They are all around us in our environment, all the time. All it takes is one jump and that nasty little flea has found it’s feasting and breeding grounds. But there are things that you can do to be a responsible and cautious pet owner & protect your pet from fleas!

There are flea preventative topicals that you can use monthly. They are super easy & most of them work pretty darn well at warding off and killing fleas. Some brands are Advantage, Frontline/Frontline Plus, & Vectra.

There are also flea AND tick combination topicals, such as Advantix and Vectra 3D. These are for DOGS ONLY. There is an ingredient in flea&TICK preventative topicals that is extremely harmful to CATS. If you want to protect your cat, be sure to use the cat version that any of these brands offers. If you have cats & dogs and you wish to use a combination flea&tick topical on your dog(s), you can. Just be sure to keep the dog(s) separate from the cat(s) after the initial application and allow the topical to DRY completely before letting your furry friends mingle together again.

Some cat&dog friends really love each other and like to groom one another. If your cat loves your dog so much that he likes to lick and groom him, it is probably smartest to just play it safe & stick to one of the flea-only preventatives, so as to keep your cat out of harm’s way.

There is also an oral prescription flea-preventative medication available for dogs now through your veterinarian called Comfortis. Ask your vet if Comfortis is right for your dog. I use it with my own dog and it seems to work wonderfully! It is given once a month with a meal. Super easy. Some dogs will get an upset stomach when taking it but it is worth a shot to give it a one-time trial to see if it works for your dog.

Nip the issue in the bud BEFORE it becomes a real problem. Please keep your pets protected against fleas all year long! It’s better for everyone that way- the animal, the owner, AND the pet sitter 🙂

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