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Flea season is approaching -- time to protect your pets

Fleas are a major headache. Now's the time to head them off

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Flea season is just around the corner and there is nothing worse than watching your dog scratch uncontrollably to try and get those fleas off of them. There is also nothing worse than trying to get those fleas out of your carpet and your furniture. So it's a much better scenario to be proactive and get those pesky fleas before they get you and your animals.

Fleas thrive in warm, humid environments with temps around 65-80 degrees, and feed on the blood of their hosts. Dogs play host to the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), whose dark brown or black body is usually one to three millimeters in length.

Fleas can jump faster and better than Olympic athletes. They can jump 10,000 times in a row (the length of three football fields). Fleas typically have a life cycle of about 2 weeks to 3 months. Fleas can thrive anywhere on a dog’s body. Usually you will find them on the abdomen, the base of the tail or on the head.

What to look for

Signs of fleas in dogs include: 

  • Droppings or “flea dirt” in a dog’s coat - Flea eggs on the dog or in the dog’s environment
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs and hot spots
  • Pale gums and
  • Tapeworms

Many complications

There are many possible complications from fleas other than just itching. They are similar to vampires -- they love blood and can consume 15 times their own body weight in blood. The result can be anemia in your dog and significant blood loss.

When a dog has a heightened sensitivity to the saliva of fleas, just one bite of a flea can cause an allergic reaction. Sometimes you may see red spots on your dog where the skin is just raw. This condition is known as flea allergy dermatitis and if not treated can lead to infections.

Being proactive means talking to your vet and getting your cat or your dog on a flea medication. It is better to get the fleas before they get you and your pet because cleaning up after them is a real headache. You will have to have your carpets cleaned and your furniture as well as wash all of your bedding.

If your pet has fleas it is not enough to just put the medication on your pet and think your house is safe. It won't be. You will have to wash everything. So avoid the hassle and the headache and start with a flea prevention program now so your animal won't suffer and nether will you.

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