Help! The Fleas Have Taken Over!

By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Parasites

Several of our animal friends have come to see us lately with flea problems. It’s November and it’s starting to get cold. Why do we still have to worry about fleas? Fall brings cooler weather but there are often sporadic warm days throughout the fall (and even sometimes in the winter!). All it takes is one or two mild days for fleas to hatch and infest your pet… and your house!

Once you have an infestation, it can be extremely difficult to get rid of. This is largely due to the nature of the flea life cycle. An adult flea will find a host (your pet) and immediately begin feeding and laying eggs. When your pet comes into your house, these eggs can end up in your carpet, on the bed, and on your furniture. From the egg stage, the fleas hatch into larvae. The larvae are mobile and will hide under furniture and in cracks between floorboards. Eventually, the larvae enter the pupa stage and spin themselves into a nice, cozy, water-tight cocoon. Inside the cocoon, the larva turns into an adult flea which will emerge when it feels vibrations on the floor indicating that a new host might be nearby. Once the adult emerges, it will find the nearest host and begin the cycle all over again.

The difficulty in treating a flea infestation is that treatments for pets and for your house are only effective against the eggs, larvae, and adults. Fleas in pupa (cocoon) stage at the time of treatment will not be harmed and can emerge at a later date to begin the infestation all over again! This is why people will often treat for fleas, have a couple of weeks of peace and then start noticing more adult fleas all over the house.

How can you stop a flea infestation? The best way is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Keeping your pet on a monthly flea preventative year round (even in the winter – remember those random warm days!) will keep the fleas off of your pet and out of your house. If your home is already infested, treat your pet immediately. The same day you treat your pet, treat your house as well. Vacuum thoroughly and launder your pet’s bedding before treating your house to remove as many of the pupa stage fleas as you can (bear in mind, their cocoons will protect them from the flea treatment). Be prepared to treat your house again in a couple of weeks once the remaining fleas begin to emerge from their cocoons and before a secondary infestation can take hold.

 

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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