Fleas are one of the most common parasites affecting cats and dogs. More than just an itchy nuisance for your pet, these little buggers can spread disease, cause severe allergic reactions and can infest your home environment. Discover common myths about fleas and the facts that dispel these misconceptions.
Myth: Indoor-only cats do not need flea prevention
Truth: even cats that stay 100% indoors can become infested with fleas. At The Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt we treat many indoor only cats for flea infestations. Flea eggs can stick to the bottom of your shoes and be brought indoors where they will hatch and infest indoor cats. Also, many cats live in households with other pets that go outside. These pets can bring fleas home to their unprotected feline friends!
Myth: The best time to treat fleas is when I see them on my pet.
Truth: Preventing fleas in the first place is better! Once you see fleas on your pet you are likely already behind in treating the problem. Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day. These eggs fall off your pet and land in the carpets, bedding and furniture. Even if you treat the fleas on your pet with a bath or flea treatment, the eggs in the environment will hatch and start the cycle all over again. This is definitely a case were an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Myth: my pet doesn’t have fleas because I can’t see them and I’m not getting bitten.
Truth: fleas can be hard to see, especially on dark coated animals. Cats are also notoriously hard animals to find fleas on because they are fastidious groomers and will remove most of the fleas (read on to #4 to find out why this is NOT a good method of flea control).
You are also unlikely to be bitten by fleas as humans are not a natural host for fleas (thank goodness!). Humans typically only get bitten by fleas when they are in an environment that is extremely infested with fleas!
Myth: Fleas are just an itchy nuisance.
Truth: Fleas spread disease and can cause severe allergic reactions in some pets. Fleas are responsible for spreading a very serious infection called bartonellosis, otherwise known as “cat scratch fever”. This is a potentially life threatening illness that causes few to no symptoms in cats but can be life threatening in people. Additionally, fleas are the intermediate host for the tapeworm. Animals are infected with tapeworms when they ingest a flea while grooming. Finally, fleas can cause a severe allergic reaction in some animals which can result in significant skin infection, pain and discomfort for your pet.
Myth: I can just use natural products such as garlic to prevent fleas on my pets.
Truth: Garlic is toxic to dogs and cats and is a poor method of flea control. If ingested in large enough quantities it can cause life threatening side effects such as anemia (low red blood cell count). Additionally, garlic is typically infective at preventing or treating fleas!
Myth: Year round flea control is not necessary
Truth: In North Carolina fleas can be a problem year round! Ask any veterinarian and they will tell you they have seen fleas on pets every single month of the year. Flea eggs can survive, lying dormant in the warm environment of the home for years. The best advice is to keep your pet protected every month, year round!
Myth: My dog got fleas while he/she was at my in-laws
Truth: Okay, this one may be true! We have heard this one around the office so many times that it probably is true some of the time. But rather than blame the in-laws we suggest that you take the necessary steps to prevent fleas before they have a chance to infest your pet!
The veterinarians at The Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt are up-to-date on the most current and effective flea treatments on the market and can tailor a prevention program specifically to your pet. Call today to set up an appointment for your pet!