Pet owners in the New England area know that spring and summer are the most important seasons to be concerned with fleas. However, if fleas get into your home, you could have a problem year-round, regardless of the weather conditions outdoors. It is estimated that pet owners in America spend over $1 billion a year just for flea control. Pets are the most common way that fleas will get into your home, however local wildlife, including squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and chipmunks, can also bring them into your yard where they can jump onto people and pets. So even if you protect your pets with flea control, you could still end up with fleas inside your home. When it comes to flea treatment in Massachusetts, it pays to create a comprehensive plan of attack to protect both you and your pets.
Does Your Dog (or Cat) Have Fleas?
New Bedford pet owners, as well as pet owners throughout the northeast, who suspect that their dog or cat may be infested with fleas should bring them in for a veterinary checkup at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. If flea infestations are left untreated, your dog and cat will not just be itchy, irritated and miserable, but could also end up with infections and other flea-related diseases. Watching out for the signs and symptoms of flea infestations and making sure to stay on top of treatment and prevention practices, will help you to keep your pets healthy and safe.
Prior to a vet checkup for dogs and cats, watch for the following signs:
- ITCHING & SCRATCHING – These are the most common symptoms of a flea infestation that New Bedford pet owners should watch out for in their dogs and cats. Fleas depend upon the host animal for survival, feeding off of his blood. Pets can be allergic to the protein that is found in flea saliva, causing itching or scratching even after just one single bite. If there is itching and scratching, go on to the next step.
- PIMPLES & BUMPS – Check your dog’s belly, groin and “armpit” area for red pimples and bumps. These can also sometimes appear at the base of the pet’s tail, resulting in hair loss, dry skin and all over irritation due to all the scratching and itching. Crusty lesions and serious infection can develop if these are left untreated, leading to more complicated and severe diseases or conditions. If there are pimples and bumps, go on to the next step.
- The VISUAL TEST – Have your pet lie on their side and check the thin-hair areas, such as the belly and “armpit” areas to see if you can see any fleas moving around. If not, move on to the comb test.
- The COMB TEST – The final way to check your pet for fleas is to use a comb or a brush and check for fleas or flea eggs. There are specialized fine-toothed flea combs available through pet supply shops that can also be used. When doing this, have a small bowl of soapy water on hand to use for drowning any adult fleas that come up with the comb so they won’t hop away. Using a white towel or sheet, brush or comb your dog. Check to see if there are any black droppings, eggs or actual fleas. Flea feces, which is known as flea dirt, will look like a tiny grain of sand.
BONUS TIP – To test whether or not the small grains you find are flea dirt, add a couple of drops of water. When water is applied to flea dirt it will turn red. In some situations, you might not find live fleas or flea eggs, but will find flea dirt. If flea dirt is present but you do not find live fleas, you should still contact Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth about flea treatment for your pet and your home.
If you are unable to detect any sign of fleas, you should still schedule a vet checkup for dogs and cats that continue to experience itching and scratching. A skin test can be done to help identify the source of the problem, which could be an allergy to something else, such as food or by coming in contact with something in their environment.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
Adult fleas will reproduce and live on your cat or dog until you do something to break the cycle. Flea treatment in Massachusetts should include a multiple layered attack. For New Bedford pet owners, there are safe and effective treatments that can be administered by your veterinarian or that can be purchased at a pet supply store. Contact your vet at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth for recommendations or prescriptions as needed. Powders, sprays, shampoos, topical liquids and other formulas can be used for treatment. Your best bet is to get on a good preventative program in advance, but there are things you can do to get rid of the fleas if you find yourself in the midst of an infestation.
The life cycle of a flea can be completed from egg to larva to pupa and to adult in about two weeks. It can take longer, however, as much as eight months, depending on the temperature, available food sources, humidity and other factors. Fleas can lay dormant in the larva and pupa stage throughout the fall and winter months, and then hatch again in the spring when you least expect it. Furniture, pet beds, blankets or anywhere that your pet spends any time should be treated, along with carpets, draperies and any other area where people and pets are present. Speak with your vet about potential options for professional, animal-safe in-home treatment if a flea infestation persists or spreads to human hosts.
Keep Your Pets Healthy at Anchor Animal Hospital
New Bedford pet owners have a valuable source to keep their pets happy and healthy. Flea treatment in Massachusetts does not have to be a never-ending battle, all it takes is learning what treatments are best for you and your pets, and seeing them through to the end. Schedule your pets for a vet checkup for dogs or cats if you suspect that they have fleas or any other type of parasitic infestation. Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth serves clients throughout the South Coast region, including all of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, specializing in a wide variety of pets, treatments and preventative care.