If your pet never really goes outside, the chances of her catching fleas are virtually non-existent, right? Unfortunately, this is one of the most common misconceptions about fleas and one of the reasons why many owners of indoor pets fail to ensure that their pet is adequately protected against parasites including fleas, as well as other contagious diseases.
Indoor pets are primarily cats who never go outside, but some people class dogs who don’t spend much time outdoors as indoor animals too. Regardless of how roaming your pet does, she can still be affected by these tiny, irritating parasites.
How can my indoor pet be affected by fleas?
Fleas are very tenacious and clever little critters. Many will hitch a ride into your yard on wild animals, dropping themselves or immature fleas (eggs, larvae or pupae) on to the ground, grass or bushes. If your pet even steps foot into your yard, they may inadvertently pick up eggs on their fur, and live fleas might hop on as your furbaby passes through. Even if your cat or dog isn’t responsible for bringing fleas into your home, these parasites have tremendous jumping ability and may onto your shoes or clothes when you enter or leave your home.
Rats and mice that may enter parts of your home may bring fleas with them, and even an open door or low-down window could provide open access for fleas to enter your property.
Fleas can cause your pet to experience a range of unpleasant problems. Firstly, their saliva contains toxins that will almost certainly make your furbaby very itchy and uncomfortable. Scratching too much too hard can cause a wound to develop and put her at risk of infection. Secondly, fleas spread potentially dangerous diseases such as tapeworm and mycoplasma haemofelis, and a severe flea infestation could put a smaller furbaby at risk of anemia.
Unfortunately, once fleas are in your home, they are very difficult to get rid of as they reproduce extremely quickly and can lay dozens of eggs at a time.
When it comes to treating fleas on any type of pet, a two-fold attack is essential. Treating your pet and your property at the same time is the only true way to get rid of an infestation. Even then, you will need to be extra-vigilant for a week or two to make sure that there are no further signs of fleas, and then take preventative steps to stop further infestations in the future.
Treating your pet for fleas
There are a huge range of different flea products currently on the market, so choosing the right one for your pet can be a little overwhelming. If your furbaby already has fleas, you will need to ensure that you treat the fleas at every stage of their lifecycle. For this reason, many owners find that they combine several treatments together (with the express advice of their vet).
Choosing the right treatment
Make sure you choose a treatment that is designed specifically for your species and size of pet. Getting this wrong could not only be ineffective but could potentially put your pet’s health or even life at risk.
You should also consider what type of treatment is best suited to your pet. There are various options available include:
- Topical medications
- Oral medications
Some animals do much better with one type of treatment over another. For example, if you struggle to get your furry friend to swallow pills, you may prefer to consider a topical medication which can be placed on her skin instead.
Checking your pet regularly
Their small size means fleas can be very difficult to spot. In fact, you are more likely to see something called flea dirt – dark colored specks of what look like dirt or coffee grinds in her fur. These are actually flea feces and are primarily made from blood, the parasite’s main food source.
Brush out your pet’s fur as often as she will let you. It can be helpful to do this while she is standing on a white sheet or bath towel so that any flea dirt is easier to spot. You can buy specialist flea combs which can help, and these are available from most pet stores.
Treating your home
Whether your pet is an indoor or outdoor furbaby, you will still need to treat your home. Fleas can survive without a host for many months and love to lurk in the dark corners of your home. Your flea population almost certainly includes hundreds if not thousands of eggs, larvae and pupae and these will also need to be dealt with.
Daily vacuuming is the best way to eliminate the majority of your flea problem. Pay particular attention to cracks in your floorboards, gaps in the skirting and under your furniture. Soft furnishings will also need to be thoroughly vacuumed. Once you are done, empty the vacuum cleaner immediately and seal the bag so that no fleas escape.
Washing your pet’s bedding regularly can help prevent fleas in the first place, but if you know your furball has an infestation, you should absolutely boil wash her bedding immediately, if not throw it away!
There are a range of sprays, fogs and other solutions designed to treat your home. Once you have chosen your preferred product, make sure you read the instructions carefully and follow them precisely. Failing to so do can render the product ineffective and potentially put you and your animals at risk. Please call Barry Veterinary Hospital in Miramar Beach with any questions about these products.
Indoor animals certainly aren’t guaranteed to be safe from fleas, so ensure that your pet is properly protected at all times. Contact us and speak to our Barry Veterinary Hospital team for more information or to arrange an appointment with one of our Miramar Beach veterinarians.