Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Debunking Seven Myths About the Mighty Flea

By Julia Williams

Fleas. The very word can strike fear into your heart. Anyone who’s ever waged war on these nasty blood-sucking pests knows how difficult and time consuming it can be to keep their pet and their home flea free. Fighting fleas is hard work, but it’s an important part of responsible pet ownership. The first weapon in the battle against this menace is knowledge. Here are some common myths about fleas.

Myth #1: A few fleas are no big deal. The truth is, a few fleas can quickly turn into a full blown infestation, thanks to this pest’s incredibly fast reproduction rate – a single female flea can lay one egg every hour! Left untreated, it’s estimated that ten fleas can generate over 267,000 offspring in just one month. Moreover, for every adult flea you see on your pet, there are typically ten or more developing in your pet’s environment.

Myth #2: Fleas are just a harmless annoyance. Fleas do bother us and our pets, alright, but they can also create serious health concerns. Fleas can cause anemia in puppies and kittens, and can even kill them if they’re not treated soon enough. Some adult dogs and cats are highly sensitive to flea bites, and just a few bites can result in a skin irritation called flea-allergy dermatitis. Intense itching from fleas can cause a secondary bacterial infection, lesions and hair loss, and fleas that are swallowed by your pet can transmit tapeworms.

Myth#3: Healthy pets don't get fleas. Although it is true that a healthy animal is a less attractive host for fleas, it’s no guarantee. Even pets that are in tip-top health can get fleas, especially if you live in a heavily infested region or a warmer climate where fleas are more prevalent. Feeding your dog or cat a high quality pet food such as CANIDAE can help to keep them in good health and make them less desirable to fleas.

Myth #4: Keeping a clean house can prevent fleas. Unfortunately, even spotlessly clean homes can have fleas. These nasty pests hitch a ride into your home by jumping on pets while they’re outdoors. Even homes without pets can have fleas, because they can be brought in on your clothes and shoes, and once inside they start reproducing faster than rabbits. Fleas, eggs and the developing larva can hide in carpeting, furniture, in cracks of hardwood floors and baseboards. Thoroughly cleaning your home, your pet’s bedding and places where your pet spends time does help in the fight against fleas, but this alone is not enough to prevent them or eradicate them completely.

Myth #5: Treating the pet alone will suffice. In reality, if you don’t treat your home and yard too, you’re just wasting your time and money. Immature fleas (eggs, larva and pupae) develop off of your pet, so fully solving a flea problem requires a three-prong approach, i.e., treating your pet, your home and your yard at the same time. And if you have more than one pet, you must treat them all, even if you don’t see any fleas on them and/or they’re not scratching.

Myth #6: There’s no need to worry about fleas in winter. Fleas are more problematic in the warm summer months, but they can live quite happily (and continue to reproduce) in your home all year long. Effective flea control is an ongoing, year-round process, but diligently fighting these pests in winter can give you an advantage that will help you win the battle. Read this article for more about flea control in wintertime.

Myth #7: Natural flea control is not effective. This myth is partially true in that some natural flea products and methods don’t work as easily and/or efficiently as their chemical counterparts. However, a diligent pet owner who chooses to go the natural route to fight fleas can succeed. It’s up to each of us, as responsible pet owners, to research all flea control methods and products to discover which ones are right for our animal companions.

Fighting fleas can seem like an impossible battle, and we may be tempted at times to throw up our hands and surrender to this almighty enemy. But the decision to bring pets into our lives brings with it a commitment to take good care of them. Fleas are tenacious pests to be sure, but in the end they’re no match for those who are dedicated to responsible pet ownership.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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