As a receptionist, I take a lot of phone calls from booking routine appointments to answering questions about parasites and medications. I think the question I hear most often is: “When will the flea season end?” The bad news is, we don’t have a flea season at Elgin County anymore; those pesky parasites are here all year round!
In the past, “flea season” was when it was nice out, usually spring, summer, and fall with a break in the winter. I have been here for eight years now and we have had a flea outbreak every year in January and February. The snow does not deter fleas one bit; they are becoming more resilient to our ever-changing and unpredictable weather.
If you do find fleas in your home or on your pet, don’t panic! Treatment is fairly easy but it does take time to get all the fleas out of the environment. Typically, it takes at least three flea treatments (or three months) to kill all the life stages of the flea.
It’s also recommended that you do a really good cleaning of the home as the eggs are really sticky and can get stuck to flooring and fabrics and hatch out a month later. Make sure to:
- Vacuum all hardwood flooring, carpeting, and baseboards
- Vacuum furniture (don’t forget to remove to cushions)
- Wash bedding and vacuum the mattress (if you let your pet sleep in your bed)
- Wash all pet beds/bedding
Important reminder: Be sure to throw your vacuum bag out outside or dump the canister outside immediately after vacuuming as the heat from the vacuum will not kill the fleas and they can come crawling out.
Another concern with fleas is that they can carry tapeworm and when ingested they can infect your pet. You might see them pass small “rice-like” segments in their stool. The good news about tapeworm is that it is not transferred fecal-orally like most other parasites so it cannot be transferred from one pet to another and it is easily treated usually with one dose of deworming. The bad news is they are gross and often still moving when they “exit” the body. So if you are seeing fleas, be sure to check your pet’s stool for tapeworm segments as well.
The best way to avoid a flea infestation is to make sure that all pets in the home are on flea prevention, even that outdoor cat that only comes in occasionally. There are a variety of products available to help kill the fleas but not all products are created equally. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best option for your pet.
You can find more information about the flea life cycle here.