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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Fleas The Danger To Your Pet

Fleas: The Danger to Your Pet

PetSmart Brent Carroll, DVM/Banfield

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Fleas and Ticks aren't just a nuisance for you and your Pet; these pests can cause the following medical problems:

Tapeworms
If your Pet eats a flea, which is likely during self-grooming, your Pet could become infected with the immature tapeworms fleas can carry. These long, flat parasites can cause weight loss and diarrhea--and can be contagious to you and your family.

Fleas aren't just a nuisance for you and your Pet; these pests can cause the following medical problems:

Tapeworms
If your Pet eats a flea, which is likely during self-grooming, your Pet could become infected with the immature tapeworms fleas can carry. These long, flat parasites can cause weight loss and diarrhea--and can be contagious to you and your family.

One sure sign of tapeworms is the "white rice" you may find on your Pet's coat underneath the tail. These are tapeworm segments, and they can also be found on your Pet's bedding. If you see them, take your Pet its doctor right away.

Allergy
Fleas are the No. 1 cause of allergies in dogs and cats. As fleas eat, they inject saliva under your Pet's skin, an irritation that can lead to miserable scratching, hair loss, and infection. If your Pet scratches or licks excessively, see us for help.

Infection
Pets suffering from flea bites can develop dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin. Antibiotics and shampoo therapy can rid your Pet of this problem, but if left untreated, the infection will spread and your Pet will become more uncomfortable. Dermatitis isn't the only danger of infection; fleas carry many diseases and parasites.

Anemia
Fleas get their nutrition by ingesting Pets' blood, and they can consume so much that a puppy, kitten, or a small Pet can die as a result of blood loss. It's especially important to keep young and old Pets flea-free.

THE BATTLE PLAN
Your Pet isn't the only one at risk: People can get irritating flea bites, too. Ridding your home and yard of these pests takes time, several steps, and a strong commitment to success. Here's the battle plan:

Shampoo Your Pet
For many Pet owners, the easiest option is to bring your Pet in for a shampoo. If you decide to bathe your Pet at home, check with us about the safest and most effective products to use. Remember, a clean, flea-free Pet is a good first step, but you can't stop there!

Keep Fleas Away with Spot-On Treatments

After your Pet is washed free of existing fleas and debris, it's time to apply a spot-on treatment like Advantage, an easy-to-use product that will eliminate 98 to 100 percent of fleas on your Pet within 24 hours of application.

Take Back Your House
You can't conquer a flea problem by treating only your Pets--it is best to also treat your house. Fleas can live for months without food and can lay several thousand eggs, which can survive for years in carpeted areas, wood floors, and furniture until it's time to hatch and reinfest your Pet and your home.

One simple way to clean the flea eggs out of your house is to vacuum several times a week, tape the bags shut, and throw them away. Also clean your Pet's favorite hangouts and launder its bed regularly. Use a professional fogger in each room and sprays for hard-to-reach spots. Make sure you use only foggers and sprays that combine insect growth regulators with an insecticide. Don't undertake this project uninformed--flea products can be hazardous! Make sure to speak to your Pet's doctor.

Conquer Your Yard
Use professional, concentrated yard sprays, many of which attach easily to the end of a garden hose for application. It's especially important to spray moist and shaded areas of your yard. Spray doghouses and kennels with an indoor premise spray, and allow all areas to dry before allowing your Pet access to them.

Fleas are tough! Be sure to start these procedures simultaneously and treat all of your Pets--the best time is now!

Did You Know...
Fleas can jump 150 times their body length, and some species can leap up to 36 inches high. That's equivalent to a 5-foot-10-inch man jumping over the 555-foot Washington Monument. Female fleas consume 15 times their weight in blood each day. That's like a 140-pound woman eating 8,400 hamburgers. Pass the antacids, please!

© Banfield 2004.3 HOEP #81102

Authored and edited by Brent Carroll, DVM

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