My Dog Has Fleas

Spending a day romping or hiking along in the park on your favorite trails with man’s best friend is year-round here in Austin. But, it’s not without trouble lurking in the lush green outdoors. You get home after a game of fetch with Buddy, and he pauses to scratch his ear. You don’t think much of it – after all, it’s just an itch. A couple of hours and a dozen scratches later and you have to face the harsh reality; Buddy has fleas.

Those tiny pests that sneak into our home and drive our pets insane seem to come out of nowhere, and once they move in they seem impossible to evict. They cause bothersome itching, painful sores from scratching ‘hot spots’ and left unchecked, can oftentimes lead to tapeworms. Not to mention humans can suffer from them as well. But there’s hope! With some practical information on prevention and treatment – as well as debugging a few myths – you will be on your way to kicking those freeloaders to the curb for good.

The first step is treatment, and fast. A feeding female can lay upwards of 50 eggs per day and on average 2,000 eggs in her lifetime. Therefore, important to understand the lifecycle of a flea because you’re not just treating your dog. All those furry critters that share your home must be treated simultaneously, in addition to regimented vacuuming of all soft surfaces (carpets, fabric couch, etc) in the entire home 2-3 times per week and repeated washing of all bedding during this life cycle. There are many options for direct-treatment available, from professional bathing and dipping to powders and collars available at your favorite pet store or online.

Prevention is convenient and easy, and not nearly as expensive as waiting until an infestation has occurred. A once-monthly spot treatment for your dogs or cats are virtually 100% effective. There are several brands available from your vet, pet supply store, groomer or reputable online pet supply distributor. These products work wonders but be sure to follow the dosing and application instructions to the letter. Never use medication intended for a dog on the cat as this can prove to be fatal for ‘Tiger’. If you’re seeking more natural options, keep in mind that they are arguably not nearly as effective. After all, it only takes 1 feeding female to cause an outbreak.

Fleas thrive between 70° – 85°, meaning prevention in Austin is a pretty much a year-round affair. Just because the temperatures might dip into the 40’s on occasion doesn’t mean the fleas die off. You might be surprised and horrified to know that those pesky blood suckers can survive 10 days at freezing temperatures, and up to 100 days dormant without a meal. Don’t forget; inside your home it’s toasty warm and a free buffet meal is available – even if it’s YOU. Just remember what your mom always said; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

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