No More Fleas Please! (Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

Before I start my topic I want to extend thoughts and prayers to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. On our end everyone is safe and luckily we were able to open ourLakewoodoffice almost immediately afterward. For animals that were in the building some of our staff braved the storm to come in and take care of them, some even staying and weathering the storm in the building so the animals would not be alone. We hope everyone is ok and if we can help with your pets please let us know.

It may seem like an old topic but fleas have been around long time and recent weather conditions have made flea numbers explode.

We have all likely seen fleas and maybe have battled, or are currently battling an infestation. Not only are they annoying to us and the pet but they can cause health issues too. They can cause anemia (low red blood cells), transmit diseases from pet to pet, tapeworms come from fleas and some animals are allergic to the fleas which causes them great discomfort.

Flea infestations can happen very quickly and can be difficult to get rid of. Why? First we have to understand the flea and what their game plan is.

–        It starts with a female flea that jumps onto your pet (or you!). Once they are on an animal host they stay, life is good there.

–       The flea settles in and starts feeding. They are basically little vampires and eat up to 15 times their body weight in your pet’s blood daily. Within 24 hours that flea is laying eggs. Up to 40 or 50 eggs per day and they live up to 3 weeks. Numbers add up fast!

–        These eggs laid in your pet’s hair coat will roll off and land in the environment. Your pet is now a salt shaker. Everywhere they walk and  jump (beds/furniture) they are shaking eggs into the home and out side. To add to the population, if you have wild life that come through your yard or neighborhood untreated pets they are also shedding eggs. When you are working hard to end an infestation that can be one of the reasons it isn’t working.

–        Alright, the eggs have now landed somewhere, inside or outside. Within 2-10 days (depending on environmental factors) these eggs hatch. It’s a quick thing. Now they are larvae. Within 7-21 days they become pupae and form a cocoon. This is where they can stay dormant for 200 or more days or can hatch into fleas within a week.

Click here to see flea larvae in the home.

So, now that we know how they operate let’s talk about a few myths and facts.

Fact: if you see fleas on your pet there are already flea eggs, larvae, pupae and emerging fleas in your home or outdoors.

Fact: remember pets are living salt shakers. This helps with environmental cleanup.

Fact: after applying the flea product recommended by your veterinarian adult fleas on your pet will be dead within 4 to 36 hours. BUT expect to see live fleas for up to 3-8 weeks as the lifecycle plays out to extinction in the environment.

Fact: when using monthly flea products, if you miss a dose or are late with a dose (even a day or 2) the fleas will survive and the lifecycle starts over. You are back at the beginning.

Fact: you have to treat EVERY PET with fur (exception: tiny pocket pets like hamsters usually are ok). That means the dogs, the cats, the rabbit, the ferret. You will fail if you do not do this. Ask us for the appropriate treatment for the non dog/cat furry kids in your house.

Fact: not only do you have to treat everyone, you have to do it for a long time, every 30 days, without fail. That may mean year round. Which brings me to a myth: it is getting cold now/summer’s over so I don’t need to worry about fleas. When the temperature starts to dip the fleas become desperate. This is when they jump on people to get into the house to find a host.

Myth: my dog got fleas from the dog next to me at the vet office/groomer. Fleas rarely, if ever, jump from pet to pet. They get a flea from newly hatched fleas as the pet walks by.

Fact: with the current monthly flea products available you do not always need to treat the environment but doing so will greatly decrease the time it takes to get rid of your infestation.

Myth: I don’t need to use flea products because my cat/rabbit is indoors only OR my dog only goes out in the yard. Your dog can pick up a flea as they are in your yard from wildlife, fleas can jump on us to use us as a ride indoors to your pet.


I will share my recent flea experience with you. Yes, I had a flea problem. This is how it happened for me. We (my family, including 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 hamsters) were set to move. Our beloved dog passed away from liver cancer just before the move. He was my reminder to flea/tick protect the others each month. So, when we moved I got forgetful. I got behind a few months on protection since no one was going outside. I knew better but yet there it was. Next was a perfect storm. We moved and I believe the house we moved to had dormant pupae in the carpet/floor cracks. And, it was getting cooler out so fleas were hopping on warm bodies (the humans) to get in the house. And I had not been faithful with my 30 day applications on the cats. And there they were…Fleas! In the vet’s house!! I launched a full blown attack. Applied my monthly product to the pets. Washed and dried everything that could be washed every day for a week. Vacuumed (and emptied the canister outside so no eggs would hatch inside) and swept every day. Luckily I got it under control fairly easily and didn’t need an exterminator. I also found out through that time that the hamsters were not likely going to be a problem. I checked them often and never saw anything on them. Phew! Now I mark the calendar and apply to the cat and rabbit (new kid in town) year round.


We are happy to chat with you about what flea products to use or help you get through your own severe infestation. With a coordinated effort, the proper products and time you will be able to get the situation under control. If you would like to know about particular flea products or what might be best for you, please call or write to us. There are so many good ones to choose from now. We urge you to call us and ask about over-the-counter products before you buy them because there are many inferior, and some potentially dangerous, products that are being marketed at major local retail stores. Remember, prevention is the key and it is very easy once you know the facts.

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