Frustrated with Fleas?!

Downtown Charleston has a problem…FLEAS! The low country is prime real estate for fleas, but downtown has more than its fair share! Many clients have come in seeking relief for their itchy, uncomfortable pets since we opened our doors. Ridding your environment of fleas can be a frustrating endeavor – especially when it is difficult to control the environment outside your home. Strays, squirrels, and the dog next door may constantly infest the area with fleas. There are a few tricks of the trade that can help you get control through!

The need to know info:

1. Adult fleas like to stay on the animal, therefore you MUST TREAT THE PET. ALL the pets!
First, you must prevent those fleas from biting, laying eggs, and surviving on your pet. Fleas will constantly jump on your pet in the yard, during walks, and at the dog park. There are many oral and topical products available. Talk to your vet about the safest and best option for your lifestyle and for your pet. Some pets have an allergy to the flea saliva so even one flea bite can lead to intense itching. Consistent and appropriate flea prevention will help to reduce the discomfort! And if you only treat your dog but your roommate has a cat…your flea problem will continue. Everyone needs safe flea prevention. (Remember – not all over the counter flea prevention is safe for cats – read the label, and NEVER apply a dog product on a cat!)

2. Flea eggs are laid by those adult fleas on your pet and then quickly fall off. They land wherever the pet spends the most time (cushions, bedding, carpets), therefore you MUST TREAT THE ENVIRONMENT. 90% of the flea population is around the home, not on the pet!

a.Remove all toys, clothing, and storage from floors, under beds, and in closets to allow the areas to be treated.
b. Remove pets, pet food, bowls, fish or snake tanks from the area to be treated.
c. Wash and dry all pet bedding, throw rugs, and blankets.
d. Vacuum the environment daily for several days after the home is treated. The goal is to remove as many flea eggs and larvae as possible to prevent  them from hatching into adults down the road. Remember to vacuum under cushions, in corners of the room, and under all furniture. Flea eggs and    larvae like dark, warm areas! Be sure to empty the bag/canister after each vacuuming session.
e. Apply a safe insecticide to the indoor and outdoor environments. Discuss options with your veterinarian or your exterminator. People and pets       should remain away from treated areas until the product is dry. Remember to address those areas where your pet hides or sleeps such as under the bed! Areas of the yard where the pet plays and sleeps as well as areas under porches will need to be treated too.

3. Those eggs that do survive will hatch into larvae which transform into pupae in protective cocoons. The cocoons protect the pupae from insecticides for up to 4 weeks or longer – therefore treatment MUST BE CONSISTENT and on-going. Even after treating the pet and the environment you may see a few fleas as they emerge from the cocoon and hop a ride on your pet! Don’t worry, they won’t last long! Make sure to repeat the environment cleaning in 2 to 4 weeks to capture each and every cycle of the fleas.

-Dr. Kahuda


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