Yuck! Every “owner” dreads this sticky situation. Never assume that because your pet lives indoors, he is safe. If you have a dog, your dog goes outside. If you have a cat, you go outside and you can bring the fleas back home to your cat. Don’t assume that living in a city is going to give you protection either. Fleas are a huge problem and any dog or cat can pick them up, regardless of age, location and fitness level. Fleas are like the common cold — it’s out there and is only a matter of time before you catch an infection.
Fortunately there are a myriad of ways to prevent or deal with a current infestation, no matter how small it is. Typically, pet parents tend to have their kittens or puppies wear flea collars for a period of time. You can also regularly give your pet a flea bath. The most common form of flea prevention is a liquid that is squirted directly onto your pet, either between the shoulder blades or down the length of their back (anywhere the pet can’t lick) once a month. These are popular because they attack fleas at any stage of their life cycle — eggs, larvae or adult.
Think of it like this: When you are outside on a summer’s evening and get bitten by a mosquito — that’s what fleas are to our pets. Many pets are hypersensitive to fleas. This is called “flea allergy dermatitis.” It only takes a few fleas to cause itching. This can lead your pet to rip out its own hair, cut its skin and leave bald patches. The body can also overreact and produce inflammation. I, myself, have been through this. Interestingly though, it didn’t affect all my pets nor affect each pet the same way. With the standard liquid flea prevention, it cleared up and my resident pets are healthy, happy and no longer itchy!
Small animals are also at risk of blood loss. Puppies or kittens under attack will be weak and sluggish if they lose too much blood.
Fleas can also carry a type of tapeworm that can spread to other pets and humans. A tapeworm is a long, flat worm that lives in the intestines and absorbs nutrients that we ingest. Without absorbing nutrients, your pet (or you) will lose weight and energy.
If fleas get to the point where they cause a full-fledged infestation, they are tough to get rid of. A final word of caution — or wisdom, if you will — NEVER give your cat flea prevention medication meant for Fido and vice versa. The medications for each animal are very different. Here’s to a pest-free life!