How to Detect and Treat Fleas in Cats and Dogs
By Paul Coupe
Let’s face it both cats and dogs get fleas from time to time. The more time your pets spend outside or mixing with other animals the more likely they’ll pick up a flea or two. The facts are that fleas are a regular pest. They are prevalent at particular times of the year and more active at temperatures of around 65-80 degrees. The insect’s looks for warm bodies on which to live and will either leap from a previous host or from the environment in general. In fact their ability to jump large distances is the reason they spread so readily. If the average flea was to morph into a human sized creature it’s suggested it would be able to achieve a leap of around 46 meters high and a distance or over 1800 meters. With such an athletic jumping ability it’s obvious your pets can pick up the pests fairly easily with the process of infection having little to do with general cleanliness.
Apart from causing itching and general irritation for pets, fleas can lead to hair loss and other skin infections. Flea-allergy dermatitis is not uncommon. Some cats and dogs will also become hypersensitive to flea bites and the saliva they emit, making life fairly miserable if they are left untreated for long.
Identifying if your cat or dog has fleas is not always easy. Fleas will by their very nature hide from the light (photophobia) and seek out places that offer them the darkest existence. Densely haired regions of your cat or dog such as armpits and inner thighs are good places to look. You may spot fleas scurrying from the light if you comb through your pet’s hair but more likely you’ll find only evidence they are there rather than the actual culprits themselves. Flea dirt is often the best clue you’ll get that your pet has fleas. Put simply fleas dirt is actually faeces made up of digested blood extracted from the host. To confirm the presence of fleas look for small dark specks amongst your pet’s hair. If you are still unsure you can always visit your local vet to make certain.
So what do you do if you conclude fleas are living off your cat or dog? Luckily there are several treatments available. One of the most popular solutions is to use Frontline. Frontline Spot On Cat or Frontline Spot On Dog not only kills fleas but helps to prevent re-infestation. The active ingredient known as Fipronil is now more widely available and can also be found in less expensive alternatives. Fiprocat and Fiprodog are two such products which will potentially save you a little on the better known brands.
Treatments using Fipronil do not enter your pet’s bloodstream but instead they dissolve into the coat. Applied on the back of the neck the treatment is usually fully distributed throughout the body within 24 hours. The active ingredient is then secreted continuously for several weeks. All you need to do is be sure you get the right size of dosage for your cat or dog and make a note of when treatment was applied. If your pet seems to get regular bouts of fleas you will need to keep on top of the problem with regular treatment, always following the guidelines for the particular treatment you opt for.
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