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Of the 26 serious health perils your dog can potentially suffer, fleas are responsible for two. A flea-infested pooch that scratches itself raw can develop ulcers and bacterial infection. Dog allergies, which can range from mild to severe, are most often caused by flea bites. Fleas also make cats vulnerable to infection and cause anemia in kittens. As a responsible pet owner, the onus is on you to control fleas in your pet and your environment.
How to keep fleas away from your indoor and outdoor living space
The best place to treat fleas is, well, your home. Unless your rooms are flea-free, you cannot expect your pet to stop scratching, licking and whining.
- Vacuuming can help get rid of almost 50 per cent of flea eggs residing on your furniture and curtains. Start by vacuuming high-traffic areas and your pet’s sleeping area. Secure your vacuum bag in a plastic bag and dispose off immediately.
- It is a good idea to invest in a fogger and a surface spray. Use the fogger to disinfect open, spacious areas of your home. The surface spray is ideal for hard-to-reach areas under the furniture, cracks, moldings and baseboards. When choosing these products, remember to:
* consult your veterinarian for safety advice, especially when you have children, birds, fish or asthmatic family members;
* focus on solutions that not only kill adult fleas but also halt the development of eggs and larvae; and
* get a second opinion from a professional exterminator for acute infestations.
- Cleaning, fogging and surface spraying should also include other areas of your home, such as your garage, attic and/or basement.
- It is important that you wash your pet’s bedding weekly and treat it with suitable products to control fleas and allergies.
- Flea pupae stick to carpet fibers, and can be difficult to remove. If possible, consider replacing your carpet with washable area rugs.
As far as the outdoors are concerned, tackle the natural habitat of fleas : straw, leaves, grass clippings, unused wood pallets. Also deploy fences or meshes to keep rodents, raccoons and other flea-carrying pests away from your backyard.
Flea treatments for your pet
Thankfully, there are a number of flea control products that kill the pesky insects and can be used safely on your pets.
At the very basic, you can bathe your dog or cat with medicated shampoo (every 2-3 weeks) that kills fleas on contact.
Topical insecticides – meant to be applied once a month – also kill fleas and ticks. Some of these products are intended only for dogs and some for cats, so do read the label carefully when you’re out shopping. Spot-on treatments are popular among cat owners. A few drops of this potent medication are translocated all over your pet’s body via its oil glands, killing and repelling fleas for several weeks.
Oral medications, in the form of flea control pills meant to be administered once a month, disrupt the lifecycle of fleas. When used for a year or more, they can eliminate fleas completely.