Fall Flea Frenzy: Protect Your Pets
As summer transitions into fall in cooler climates, fleas become more active than ever. If you live in the northern regions of the United States, don't shrug off the task of applying a flea preventative product on your dog or cat just yet. Find out what you can do to minimize flea troubles for your pet this fall and when you can celebrate the end of flea season.
Prevent Fleas, Prevent Illness
Fleas make your furry friend itchy and miserable as they take up residence on your dog or cat. The result of excessive scratching and biting to relieve the itch can result in secondary skin infections. Fleas can inflict more than just itchy skin, however. Some health conditions that these blood-sucking parasites can cause include the following:
- Miliary dermatitis, which is a dermatological allergic reaction a flea's saliva
- Tapeworm, which is an intestinal parasite that results when a pet ingests a flea
- Flea anemia, which occurs when a pet is infested with fleas
- Feline infectious anemia, which can be fatal
- Cat scratch fever, which is a medical condition that an infected cat can transmit to a human
Luckily, these conditions are preventable. Since the flea is the common culprit of all of these conditions, you can keep your pet healthy by administering a flea preventative product to your pets.
Is It Over Yet?
Fleas are at their peak of activity during the early autumn season. Over the course of the summer, the flea population has had plenty of time to increase as each new generation of female fleas lay more eggs. By fall, the largest wave of eggs yet hatches, and many more fleas emerge. Eager for a host, each of those fleas hitches a ride indoors on your unsuspecting and unprotected pets. Alternately, you and your human and animal family members can bring eggs indoors if you brush against any foliage, shrubbery, or brush where the eggs were laid. Once inside, the flea life cycle can continue all winter long if flea control measures are not implemented. As for the fleas that remain outdoors, they will not die off until the outside temperature drops below 37 degrees Fahrenheit and holds for 10 consecutive days and nights. Until then, dogs and owners alike are happy to spend more time outdoors to revel in the crisp autumn air, increasing everyone's opportunity for exposure to fleas and their eggs.
Continue Flea Prevention
If you just ran out of your pet's flea preventative product and the calendar tells you that fall is imminent, resist the temptation to save money and wait until next spring to restock your pet's medicine cabinet. To ensure your pet's good health, it is essential to continue the practice of flea prevention for another two to three months. If you have not used such a product all summer, you may want to consider using one for the fall season. Stick to products that are prescribed by your veterinarian for maximum safety and efficacy. Remember to never apply a product that is labeled for use in dogs to your cat. Permethrin, the active ingredient used in many canine flea preventative and treatment products, is extremely toxic to cats.
Carry On with Fall Cleanup
You can reduce the number of fleas and eggs by performing a thorough fall cleanup ritual in your yard to remove brush and fallen leaves on which fleas and eggs lie in waiting for that warm body to come along and transport them inside. Remember that fleas and eggs can end up on your shoes and clothing as you work, so once you conclude your cleanup duties, toss your clothing into the wash and launder them. Once the temperatures have dropped and remained below 37 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days, thoroughly clean up the interior of your home and apply one last dose of flea control product to your pet. Vacuum your entire home, including all floors, baseboards, steps, furniture, kitty condos and cat trees. Afterwards, go outside to empty the vacuum cleaner canister, or remove the vacuum cleaner bag, into a sealed bag and leave it in the outside trash receptacle. As part of your indoor cleanup, launder all curtains, decorator tablecloths and other linens. You can also launder your pets' bedding, but this may be a perfect time to treat your furry companions to new beds.
When your region's flea season has finally ended, which typically occurs at the end of fall, you and your pets can relax for a long winter's nap until spring. Jack Frost will be the only one threatening to bite your noses for the next few weeks, but you can thank him for his hand in destroying those pesky fleas.
For more information or assistance, contact establishments such as Norwin Veterinary Hospital.