Bug Off! How to Keep Fleas Off of Your Pets

By Amanda Roland
Dog outside

They have been on our planet for over 100 million years and are literally described as blood-sucking parasites. Ahh yes, the ever-annoying flea! Not only can they cause your dog or cat to scratch and be uncomfortable, they can also infest your home. In fact, they can jump 30,000 times without stopping and produce 2,000 eggs during their 3-week life. According to Petcarrx.com, they can consume 15 times their body weight in blood on a daily basis. This, my friends, is why we have to keep them at bay!

According to Terminix, a popular household pest expert, “Flea bites on humans are less common because most flea species prefer pets as their hosts,” we can all agree we do NOT want them on our pets or in our home. Veterinarians recommend flea and tick prevention for your household pets, especially in Florida. Our warm climate and lack of hard freezes mean that these pests can thrive. Flea bites on humans are usually small, red and itchy around the feet and ankles. A few bites themselves aren’t dangerous, but repeated bites or numerous ones can cause secondary infections or allergic reactions in humans.

Tip: Use salt on your rug to help kill fleas! The salt will dehydrate the fleas and help them die! (Make sure PI to keep pets away from this area.) Sprinkle on the area, let sit for two days and vacuum up. Repeat as necessary, and dispose of vacuum contents outside, not in the kitchen trash!

What is the best way to ensure we don’t become hospitable to these pests? Prevention and treatment is key, and they can range in price and method from prescription topical medications applied directly to the animal to oral medications to flea collars that can be purchased over the counter. Many of these products will prevent fleas, as well as ticks and other pests, and should be discussed with your pet’s veterinarian to determine what is the safest, most effective method for your animal. A study put out by Veterinary Parasitology reported that after a 90 day study on 128 dogs from five states, when used correctly, topical flea medicine was 88.4 % effective and oral treatments were 99.9 % effective. Most mediations/treatments are based on age and weight, so what works for one pet or breed may not work or be safe for another.

Some possible options to talk to your vet about:

▸ Bravecto chewables are a popular choice for dogs; they prevent fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. These are weight based so there are several strengths to choose from. The cost is around $55 per dose or $200 for the year. Bravecto topical solution is also available for both dogs and cats, similarly priced and effective.

▸ Frontline Plus is a topical medication applied directly to the back of your dogs (not safe for cats) coat to protect them from fleas and ticks for 30 days. A six-month supply will run you about $66 dollars.

▸ Advantage II may be a good choice for your small dogs because its a topical treatment effective for up to 30 days. Forty-three dollars will buy 4 doses on Amazon.

▸ K9 Advantix II is a topical treatment for large dogs that protects against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes for a month. It costs $67 for 6 months.

If you have lapsed on your preventative treatments or gotten a new pet that has brought fleas into your home, there is help. The first thing to recognize is that there are different species of fleas, and treatment will vary.

Four common types of fleas:

The Human Flea: This flea is less common in the U.S.

Chigoe Flea: The chigoe flea is not found in the U.S., but may be found on travelers from Africa and Central and South America.

Oriental Rat Flea: This flea is found worldwide, including the U.S. It bites humans, can spread disease, and its hosts are typically rats, mice and rabbits.

Cat Flea: This is the most common flea found in the U.S. and makes up 90% of the fleas found on household pets. They will bite humans if encountered.

Get rid of them!

  1. Wash your dog with flea/tick shampoo, and use a flea comb! This is key, as you will need to get rid of the eggs and fleas themselves.
  2. While you are washing, you will also want to wash their bedding, blankets and toys continually until fleas are gone completely.
  3. If infestation is bad in your home, hire professionals like an extermination company that can come and treat your home.
  4. Fleas are brought in from the outside, so treating your yard is also necessary.
  5. The flea life cycle can last for months given certain conditions so regular vacuuming of the infected areas is crucial to stop cycle.
  6. If you have multiple pets, wash all at the same time to prevent the fleas from jumping back and forth.
  7. Speak to your vet and begin using the appropriate preventative medicine for your animal based on size, breed and age.