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The Nasty Truth About Fleas- Memphis and Mid South Pet Health

Posted 04.03.13 by Katie Wooden, DVM

There aren’t many creatures in the world that are as irritating and potentially dangerous as the flea. Here in Memphis, no pet is safe from fleas.

Flea Myths

1. My pet is indoor only, so he cannot get fleas

Truth: Fleas can enter homes on our shoes and pants, where they then thrive in our carpets and furnishings. They can even survive in the cracks in hardwood floors.

Therefore, indoor only pets are not safe from fleas!


2. I do not see fleas on my pet, so he doesn’t have a flea problem.

Truth: Fleas are small and incredibly hard to see. Most pets are adept at licking and grooming them away, so the fleas are never seen. It only takes one flea bite to cause a problem, so even one or two fleas can cause itching.

Most Common Signs of Fleas

  • Hair loss
  • Intense scratching
  • Chewing, biting, especially at the tail, hind end, and back legs
  • Skin damage, rash from scratching and chewing
  • Sores

The Dangers of Fleas

  • Itching, hair loss
  • Hot Spots
  • Flea Bite Dermatitis (actual allergy to flea saliva)
  • Tapeworm infection
  • Cat Scratch Fever (Bartonellosis)
  • Anemia

Why are fleas so hard to eliminate?

Once fleas get into the environment, such as your yard or house, they can be incredibly hard to eliminate. An adult female flea can lay up to 40 eggs per day. Depending on the temperature in the environment, those eggs can hatch in 9 days! An adult female will continue to lay eggs until she dies, so you can imagine how many offspring they can produce!

How do I prevent fleas?

The best way to prevent fleas in your pets is to use a monthly flea preventative. There are many flea products out there, and your veterinarian can help you decide which product is the best and safest for your pet. While flea shampoos may help eliminate the fleas that are currently on your pet, they will not prevent future fleas from jumping on them. While  veterinary-approved flea products are very safe, we have seen bad reactions in a few of our patients from over-the-counter products. Always contact your veterinarian before using a product you are ensure about. Also, please ensure that you use a product that is for the correct species and size for your pet. A canine flea/tick product can be toxic if applied to a cat, so please be careful!

If your pet’s home or yard is severely infested with fleas, even the best flea product will not work well. In certain cases, your home and yard may need to be treated by a professional pest control company in order to help eliminate a flea problem. Always contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is having a flea problem.


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