There are lots of different health issues that can affect our pets. One of the most common preventable problems is parasites.
Parasites are creatures that treat animals as hosts and feed from them to sustain their lives. There are two main types of parasites – internal and external. Internal parasites include issues like tapeworms and hookworms, that live in your pet’s intestines. External parasites live on the outside of your pet’s body and feed by penetrating their skin with their mouthpieces so that they can feast on the nutrients contained in your pet’s blood. One of the most common parasites that can affect our pets are fleas.
What Are Fleas And What Do They Do?
Fleas are virtually microscopic, wingless organisms that look as though they would be harmless but are anything but. Despite their small size, they have immense jumping capabilities and move from host to host by leaping onto them. Once aboard your pet, a flea will burrow down into their coat and start to feast on their blood. After they are sated, they will drop off and wait for their next host to pass them by.
As with most health problems, preventing fleas is far better – and easier – than treating them. Fortunately, there are many preventative options for our furry friends. They include topical treatments such as sprays, shampoos and spot-on liquids. You can also buy collars that release chemicals which repel fleas. It’s worth noting that many flea preventatives also work for other parasites, including ticks. It can be easier and cheaper to purchase a combination preventative.
It’s important to note that all preventatives are only effective for a period of time. Beyond this, if you don’t readminister your preferred preventative, your pet could be at risk of being attacked by parasites. For this reason, it’s important to keep track of how long your chosen preventative will keep your furbaby safe for, and when further doses are needed.
How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Fleas?
Since they are so small, spotting physical fleas on your pet isn’t particularly easy. Nevertheless, a flea infestation can cause your pet to experience symptoms and its these that owners should look out for, which could indicate that your furry friend has an issue with this parasite. They include:
- Excessive itching/scratching
- Hair loss
- Red skin
- Sores on the skin from excessive scratching
Your pet may also develop flea dirt. This looks similar to actual dirt and forms within the coat of infected animals, but is actually an accumulation of flea droppings. When flea dirt is placed onto a paper towel and sprayed with water, it will streak pink or red.
There are plenty of different flea treatments available, and your vet will be able to recommend which variety may best suit your pet. Options include topical sport-on treatments, shampoos, and powders, as well as oral medications. Topical spot-on treatments are generally considered to be the most effective, destroying adult fleas, larvae and eggs fro around 30 days.
Unfortunately, it’s not just your pet you will need to treat for fleas. There could be countless fleas at all stages of their lifecycle in your home already – from impossible-to-spot eggs in cracks in floorboards, to pups trapped under furniture. You’ll need to take proactive action to remove fleas, whatever stage of their lifecycle that are at, from your home. This will involve using indoor flea control treatments, and vacuuming all floors, carpets, baseboards, furniture and bedding as often as possible. And washing your pet’s bedding and any other soft furnishings that they come into contact with as often as you can too.
It can take up to three months to break a total flea life cycle by using monthly flea treatments and the at-home treatment techniques we’ve recommended.
If you would like more information about flea prevention and care, or to schedule an appointment to discuss any concerns that you have, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly veterinary experts today.