|Scanning Electron Micrograph of a Flea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
At some stage of your pet's lifespan every pet owner will have to deal with the problem of fleas, ticks and mites. If left untreated they can take over your pet's skin and coat so it is really important to keep it under control. It's best to stop the problem before it gets out of control. Rather treat your pet for a few fleas than treat the whole house for an infestation!
There are some misconceptions about fleas. It is not something that only happens to dirty animals! In fact it is probably more common in clean animals because fleas prefer a clean coat. Coming into contact with other animals also causes exposure to the problem and can start a flea problem in your home.
Fleas, mites and ticks are parasites with a short lifespan so they reproduce quickly. Female fleas can lay up to 25 eggs a day. So you can see just how quickly the problem can get out of hand! They tend to prefer warm conditions so summer and spring are the most troublesome times for pets and owners.
The main thing is that you want to catch the problem early! This means brushing your dog often and inspecting their coat. Fleas, ticks and mites are tiny black, brown crawling creatures that can even look like dirt. It may help for you to examine the fur under their ears and arms/legs. Fleas like warm places. You can also sea flea egg sacks and flea droppings in their fur if you look closely. If you still cannot see the fleas try combing your dog on a bright surface, something like a piece of paper should work well.
This is a problem that needs to be treated right away. Instead of heading for the pet store to buy expensive over-the-counter treatments, sprays or dips you should rather seek professional help right away. It will save you time. Your vet should have some pamphlets or handouts about flea control. Some vets even prescribe oral treatments if the problem is out severe.
If you choose to shop for the products yourself you will need to read the labels carefully to check that you are not inadvertently poisoning your pet! Never allow your pet to ingest any of the products you use; they are highly poisonous. It's also important to protect their eyes from these harsh chemicals. There is a lot of disagreement about whether or not flea collars work. They tend to kill fleas in a localized area around the collar.
It is important to treat your home for fleas as well. Fleas can survive in almost anything in your home-furniture, rugs and bedding. Any flea treatments will be pointless if the flea's eggs or fleas themselves remain in your living space.
To clean your home properly you will need to sanitize and clean the areas where the pet sleeps. Depending on the severity of the problem you may need to throw away blankets that have become infested with eggs. Often - just washing the affected bedding in hot water and some flea shampoo should do the trick. Rather safe than sorry though - if in doubt toss the bedding. Having to have your home fumigated will cost a lot more!
Fleas can become a nightmare for any pet owner. Rather stop the problem early - check your pet everyday for fleas and regularly use a preventative product approved by your vet.