The vet’s office: Shoo flea, don’t bother me
The irritating pests can cause trouble even in winter
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
It may seem unbelievable, but veterinarians continue to see fleas on pets in winter. The reason is that an infestation often is present and building for six to eight weeks before a pet owner sees the first flea.
In the fall — as outside temperatures drop — fleas deposited in nature by itchy pets or other animals actively seek a new warm home. Fleas are thermotactic, which means that they will jump toward a warmer area, be it your house foundation or a dog or cat. Initially, these few fleas may produce no discomfort to your pet. Because a pet’s body temperature is a few degrees above a human’s, they will not leave that warmer pet to go on to us and may go unnoticed for weeks.
Having piercing, sucking mouth parts, similar to a mosquito, fleas quickly begin to feed on your pet’s blood, rapidly gaining strength and reproductive ability.
Some commonly quoted flea statistics are:
—Adult fleas live 100+ days.
—An adult flea can lay up to 40 eggs per day.
—Eggs will hatch in 1-10 days.
—Pupae can survive up to 174 days.
Our product representatives tell us, “Beginning with 10 fleas, your house can have 90,000 flea eggs by 30 days.”
If pets are kept on a year-round topical or oral flea and tick preventive as recommended, this would not be an issue. Many pet owners, however, stop tick and flea preventive measures in winter, thinking the risk is gone. Once the scratching begins and fleas are seen on your pet, hundreds and possibly thousands of flea eggs are now in your carpet, between the cushions on your couch, or even in your car.
Thorough treatment of the house is important along with the treatment of your pet. Professional-strength products are more effective and are available from your veterinarian. Fleas in the pupal stage may remain dormant for over 170 days, so sometimes a major pest control company may be called upon to treat your home long term.
An ounce of prevention, year-round, is always recommended to avoid this unwanted home invasion.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.