10 Myths About Fleas

Do you know the truth behind these myths? You can also download a copy of this article here.

 

Flea myth #1: My pet isn’t scratching, so he/she doesn’t have fleas.

Truth: Even if your cat or dog is not itchy, biting/chewing at themselves excessively, he/she could still have fleas. Apart from causing itchy skin, fleas can also transmit other parasites such as tapeworms, blood parasites such as Mycoplasma haemofelis which may destroy red blood cells leading to anaemia; and bacteria such as Bartonella which may cause cat scratch disease in both cats and humans. Compared to the stress and cost of treating flea-related illnesses as well as potentially having to pay someone to decontaminate your house – providing preventative health measures such as the application of regular flea treatments, is a lower-cost alternative.

Flea myth #2: Pets have to go outside to get fleas.

Truth: While your pets may spend most of their time indoors, these sneaky, pesky fleas can easily set up camp in your home by hitching a ride on your shoes, clothing – or when other people or pets visit your home.

Flea myth #3: Pets do not need flea preventatives in cooler months.

Truth: While fleas prefer warmer climates – your cosy home over the colder seasons provide the perfect refuge for fleas. So while it might be cold outdoors, fleas may still happily thrive in your home at temperatures around 15°C or warmer. At cooler temperatures, fleas can also go into a dormant state and only re-emerge when the conditions are right.

Flea myth #4: Only treat the flea-ridden pet, and not the other pets in the household.

Truth: All pets in your household need to be treated. Some pets are more sensitive to fleas than others, so if you only treat the flea-infested itchy pet and not the others, it is only a matter of time before he/she gets re-infested by other pets in the house that also have fleas but may not have shown any signs of scratching. Remember to also treat smaller pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits – talk to your veterinarian to find out which product is safe for them.

Flea myth #5: Once I treat my pet/s and the fleas go away, no further applications are needed.

Truth: This is one of the biggest mistakes to make. Pets can become ultra-sensitive to fleas if they’re intermittently exposed, and are more likely to develop flea allergy dermatitis. Flea-allergy dermatitis is a condition that causes itchiness, scabby lesions and hair loss. Therefore, continuous flea control is highly recommended, to minimise the risk of developing flea allergy dermatitis.

Flea myth #6: Flea products contain toxic chemicals.

Truth: All veterinary flea products have been subjected to extensive quality assurance, rigorous safety and efficacy testing before they are allowed on the market. Our staff members have also been trained to assist you in the selection of the appropriate flea product for your pet/s. Therefore, you can have the confidence that these veterinary flea preventative products are safe for use in your pets.

Flea myth #7: Fleas are resistant to these new chemicals, so I don’t really mind which one I buy anyway.

Truth: Veterinary products target multiple stages of the flea life cycle, have a great track record of killing fleas, and parasitology experts state that no significant resistance to these products have occurred. Most perceived product failures are likely a result of an excess amount of flea burden and/or inappropriate application.

Flea myth #8: Natural remedies such as brewer’s yeast or garlic are safe for flea control.

Truth: Organic and natural remedy products are not only often ineffective at controlling fleas, but can sometimes cause illness in pets. For example, if ingested in significant amounts – yeast can cause bloat in dogs and garlic can damage red blood cells leading to potentially life-threatening anaemia in both dogs and cats.

Flea myth #9: Keeping my house clean prevents fleas.

Truth: Fleas are rapidly multiplying parasites, with a female laying 40-50 eggs per day, and at least 5000 eggs in her lifetime. The flea can complete its life cycle in as little as 12 days. With these phenomenal reproduction rates, once you have a significant flea population established in your household, it will be a great struggle to completely eradicate them, even with the help of pest-control professionals. Additionally, the most common way pets catch fleas is from their environment – fleas rarely jump from pet to pet. Therefore, the use of year-round, regular flea preventatives is imperative.

Flea myth #10: Fleas prefer carpeting.

Truth: Fleas are happy to hide in tiles, wooden floor boards, furniture, your clothing etc. Adult fleas (the ones you see on your pet) only make up 5% of the total flea population – the other 95% compromises of pupae, larvae and flea eggs which can be found in your pet’s environment. Veterinary flea preventative products are designed to target several stages of the flea life cycle, increasing their overall efficacy.

 

 

Should you have any further questions regarding fleas and how to prevent them, please do not hesitate to chat with one of our friendly team members at (06) 358 8675, or come into our clinic at 261 Broadway Avenue, Palmerston North.

 

Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 01 February 2016

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