Blog Post

Mar 7 | Brian Heuring

The problems fleas create for people — not just pets

Ever wonder why you and your pet are both itching? It could be fleas. It only takes one or two fleas to cause a multitude of prob- lems for your pets, your home and even you.

Our recent milder winters have increased thefleapopulationlocally. Fleas thrive in warm, humid weather. These pests can even survive in carpeting, bedding and on furniture, including during the colder months.

Your pet can pick up fleas quite easily, espe- cially from other cats and dogs. Adult fleas are tiny, dark brown and move rapidly. You may notice redness, excessive scratching, “hot spots”, open sores and flea dirt on your pet’s coat.

Fleas tend to bite humans around the feet and lower legs, leading to itchy patches of skin and red, pimple-like bumps. Fleas can trans- mit several diseases to people, including typhus, plague and ‘cat scratch fever.’ On a smaller scale, I personally think if we took a microscope and showed pet owners what their own skin looks like after their pets become infested with fleas, they would be shocked to see the potentially harmful bacteria left behind on human skin.

Look for fleas any time you groom your dog or cat and after longer periods of time spent outdoors. Thoroughly clean your pet’s bedding. Vacuum floors and furniture your pet uses, including your car. Regularly cleaning your pet’s living area helps remove and kill flea eggs.

If you spot fleas, sched- ule an appointment with your veterinarian promptly to lessen your pet’s discomfort and further disease transmis- sion. We will recommend treatment based on the severity.

Ideally, all cats and dogs should be taking flea/tick and heartworm preventatives. There are even flea and heartworm combo medications avail- able. Trust me, it is much easier and cheaper to prevent these conditions than it is to treat them. Year-round prevention is the most effective way to control cat and dog para- sites and the diseases they can carry in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois.