As soon as spring arrives, fleas take advantage of the warmer weather to colonize the fur of our dogs and cats. Non-stop scratching, allergic reactions, risk of disease transmission, despite their small size, these little pests can seriously complicate the lives of your pet, as well as your own. So be careful, with the arrival of the beautiful days, a few precautions are necessary to protect our dear four-legged companions.
WHAT IS A FLEA?
Fleas are brown parasites that measure between 2 to 6 mm in adulthood. To survive, they colonize a host (a dog or a cat, for example), then suck its blood. Once the digestion of this blood is complete, they leave behind black excrement, characteristic of their presence. Note that fleas lay up to 50 eggs per day and the vast majority of them fall into the environment. Therefore, in case of infestation, there are more fleas in a house than on the back of the animal!`
HOW DOES MY ANIMAL CATCH FLEAS?
Contrary to popular belief, a cat or a dog rarely catches fleas from contact with an infested animal. In fact, fleas are present 95% in the environment (carpets, sofa, cushion, car, etc.). It is therefore by settling in a contaminated area that fleas take advantage to colonize your animal’s fur.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A FLEA INFESTATION?
An infested dog or cat may:
- Have no symptoms;
- Scratch or nibble. The favorite areas being the lower back and belly;
- Lose its fur, a sign of an allergy to flea bites (FAD). These depilations are particularly located at the lower back and rear thighs for dogs, and on the neck and back for cats;
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG OR CAT HAS FLEAS?
A very effective technique to know if your animal has fleas is to use a flea comb (a comb with very close teeth), and then recover any debris on a tissue or compress. Then add a few drops of water. If the debris or flea droppings turn red, bad news: your animal has fleas! But, beware! Regular licking and biting allow your animal to eliminate its fleas itself. It may therefore happen that no fleas are found during brushing.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS FOR MY DOG OR CAT?
There are 3 major risks:
- The formation of infected wounds. By scratching too much, your animal can damage its skin. If this wound is not treated, it can end up getting infected.
- Allergy to flea bites (FAD). When a flea sucks the blood of an animal, it injects an anticoagulant at the same time. This substance causes allergic reactions in some animals.
- Disease transmission. By grooming or nibbling, your animal swallows fleas. However, some of them contain digestive worm eggs, called “tapeworms”. While these worms only cause minor digestive problems in most dogs and cats, they can have much more dramatic consequences in fragile animals.
HOW TO PREVENT AND TREAT A FLEA INFESTATION?
There are many products available to get rid of fleas.
For pets, it is possible to use spot-on treatments, but some precautions should be taken. It is important to part the hair (forming 3 to 4 lines) to apply the product directly onto the skin, in areas that the animal cannot access to avoid the animal from licking and ingesting the product. If the product is applied only on the hair, and not on the skin, it will not spread effectively and will have limited efficacy.
SPRAYS AND FOGGERS
If your dog or cat has fleas, it is likely that your house is also infested. It is crucial to treat the environment to get rid of the fleas. For this purpose, the use of sprays and foggers is particularly effective.
Flea collars have a preventive action against fleas, but they do not treat infestations. Furthermore, they should be in direct contact with the animal’s skin for the insecticide to spread throughout the fur. However, make sure that the collar has an anti-strangulation system to prevent any accidents.
SHAMPOOS, POWDERS, AND LOTIONS
These products can kill fleas, but they have no short or long-term effects. They should be complemented by another type of product such as a spot-on treatment.
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