Fleas feed on the blood of animals, including cats and dogs. A bite from the parasite’s needle-like mouth causes skin irritation that can become infected when scratched as well as other serious health conditions. To protect pets, most owners use collars that contain various flea and tick formulations. While collars are generally effective, an infestation could still occur. When this happens, the visible fleas are only a small percentage of the total population present.
A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupa can also infest your carpet, upholstery, and pet bedding. In addition to treating your pet, you need to thoroughly clean and vacuum your home. To protect your pet, you should take immediate action to eliminate the problem as soon as you suspect that your pet is infested.
How to Determine Whether Your Pet Has Fleas
One of the most obvious signs of a flea infestation is the presence of the insects on your pet. Other signs and symptoms of the problems caused by the parasite’s saliva or bites include:
- The animal attempts to bite, lick, or scratch especially hard to reach places like the head, neck, armpits, tail, and groin.
- The skin develops rashes, lesions, or unusual, red-colored patches.
- Hair loss occurs in the afflicted areas or because of the continuous biting, licking, and scratching.
- Pale gums indicate that your pet may have anemia because it cannot produce enough red blood cells to compensate for the loss of blood.
- Black or reddish-brown specks of flea waste are present on your pet, in its bedding, or around the house.
- Watching your pet’s behavior and performing a visual check while grooming the animal will help you detect a potential flea problem early.
How to Choose the Right Flea Medication
With so many brands and types of flea medications available, selecting the one that is best for your beloved companion animal may seem daunting. When searching for the one that is best for your situation, select a treatment that:
1. Works Quickly and Reliably
The best flea treatment should work quickly so that your pet gets relief within a brief period. Consider the age and size of your pet. A treatment that is effective on smaller, younger animals may be ineffective on larger, older pets. You should also consider the breed and health of your pet. If the treatment does not work, use another product.
2. Kills Fleas During All Stages of Life
Look for a treatment that repels fleas and attacks eggs, larvae, and mature insects. There are hundreds of different flea species. Speak with your veterinarian to learn which species are prevalent in your area so that you can select the treatment that will be most effective solution.
3. Is Easy to Use
Flea treatments are available in a variety of forms. Select the easiest type of treatment for your situation. The ease of use increases the likelihood that you will follow the recommended treatment regimen.
4. Has Safe Ingredients
While there are times that dogs and cats can take the same medications, some flea treatments are intended for specific animals. Determine if the listed ingredients have the potential to cause any side effects. You should also verify that the flea treatment does not interact negatively with any other medications that your pet may be taking. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.
5. Matches Your Pet’s Preferences
Some pets will not stay still long enough for topical applications, dips, or shampoo-type treatments. Although tablets are usually flavored, your pet may not want to swallow the medicine. You also have to consider your pet’s lifestyle. An animal that spends considerable time outdoors playing or exploring may require a different treatment than one that seldom goes outside.
Popular Flea Treatments
Flea medications are categorized based on the method by which they are administered. These treatments can be given at home or in your veterinarian’s office.
Topical applications are applied directly to your pet’s skin. Once the medication is absorbed, the glandular system produces body oils that kill and repels fleas. The medication takes several days to become effective and lasts approximately a month.
Oral medications are available in a tablet or pill form. A single dose usually starts to kill adult fleas within minutes. The medication lasts for approximately two to three months.
Dips and shampoos kill fleas on contact. They are applied like a bath and allowed to dry before being rinsed off. While shampoos are effective for five to 14 days, concentrated dip treatments last a month.
Potential Side Effects of Flea Medications
While oral medications can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, precautions must be taken to ensure that dips, shampoos, and creams do not get in your pet’s eyes since they can be poisonous if ingested. Other possible side effects include allergic skin reactions and respiratory distress. If you notice any problems, consult your veterinarian.
Protecting your pet from fleas is a matter of keeping up with the basics. Once the infestation is eliminated, clean your house and pet regularly. A fogger may be needed to kill bugs inside your home. Use a flea collar for preventative maintenance. Your pet may need an anti-itch cream if it has suffered from fleabites for an extended period. With the right information and prompt action, you can keep your pets safe and healthy.