As the cold weather starts to arrive, you may be getting a few unpleasant house guests: fleas. Just because "flea season" is supposed to be over does not necessarily mean that the fleas go away. Often, they just move inside.
If you have pets, fleas may be hitching a ride inside your home, so they can enjoy a more comfortable winter environment. Fleas can reportedly jump as high as 13 feet, so it’s easy for a flea to jump on your dog or cat and come inside. With that in mind, you should check your pets regularly for signs of fleas.
When you check for fleas, look at the warmest parts of your pet, such as the underside where the back legs meet the body. Even if you don’t find an actual flea, you may find evidence, such as eggs or "flea dirt." Fleas live off the blood of your pet and flea dirt is the partially digested blood they excrete.
It’s easy to tell flea dirt from regular dirt. Just put some on a flat surface and add a drop of water. If the dirt turns red, you know it’s flea dirt. Another thing you may or may not find is flea eggs, which are white and about the size of a grain of sand.
If you find evidence of fleas on your pet, the fleas are in your house as well. Fleas start laying eggs within the first 48 hours of their first meal. They can lay 40 to 50 eggs per day, and a female flea can produce more than 2,000 eggs during her lifetime. Even though not every flea survives, this tremendous ability to reproduce means that you never have "just a couple fleas."
To deal with a flea problem, you absolutely must treat every pet in your household. You need to treat the pets, the house, and the yard at the same time. If you don’t, the fleas just relocate.
In the last few years, many advances have been made in flea treatments. Products exist that make it possible for you to successfully treat your pet, house, and yard safely and effectively. To find out which products would work best for your pet and your environment, please consult your favorite veterinarian for specific product recommendations and options.