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flea preventionFinding out that your pet has fleas is something every dog or cat owner dreads. Not only can they cause serious irritation and health issues for pets and people, a flea infestation is notoriously hard to eradicate.

As with most of life’s problems, controlling fleas is best done by preventing them from becoming a problem in the first place! The ongoing responsibility of flea prevention is multi-faceted, and involves preventive medication, close observation, and making your home and property as inhospitable to fleas as possible.

6-Legged Trouble

Here in Berks County, fleas begin hatching around the first week of April. They will continue to hatch until December, where they will become dormant once again. The highest number of fleas, and the most problems associated with them, occur in September and October.

As each flea generation hatches, their numbers increase exponentially (a pregnant female can lay up to 50 eggs per day). This is why any fleas you spot on your pet are representative of only about 5% of what probably exists in your environment.

Many pets have an allergy to flea saliva, known as flea allergic dermatitis, and even one or two bites can lead to intense itching and pain. Fleas can also transmit parasitic disease, including tapeworm, Bartonella (catch scratch fever), and plague.

Flea Prevention 101

The absolute best way to protect your pets, family, and home from fleas is by making sure your pet is on a monthly flea prevention medication all year long. At Conrad-Weiser Animal Hospital, we typically recommend Sentinel, a monthly heartworm preventive that also sterilizes fleas. As long as pets are kept on Sentinel year-long, fleas will be prevented from reproducing and reaching the typical high numbers by fall.

Pets with flea allergic dermatitis should be on a product that kills fleas quickly, thus preventing the pet from receiving multiple bites from the same flea. Our favorite product to kill fleas, as well as ticks, is Bravecto. Bravecto comes in pill form for dogs, and as a topical medication for cats, and lasts for 90 days. Bravecto is not only extremely effective, but is also among the safest products on the market and can be used in conjunction with Sentinel for maximum flea prevention.

Preparing for Battle

Along with keeping all your pets on a flea prevention medication year-round, take the following precautions to keep your home and property flea-free:

  • Wash your pet’s bedding on a regular basis
  • Bathe and brush your pet often, and inspect for fleas and ticks daily
  • Keep your floors clean and vacuumed, and clean upholstery, bedding, curtains, and other fabrics frequently
  • Fleas love shady, humid areas, so keep grasses and brush trimmed, and remove any compost, wood, or debris piles in the yard to prevent flea accumulation

If you have any further questions about flea prevention, or are concerned that your pet may have fleas, please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Conrad-Weiser Animal Hospital.