As a veterinarian in small animal practice, I know how difficult it can be for pet owners to deal with fleas. The primary issue we encounter is that many pet owners are unaware their furry family member has been sharing everything with these uninvited roommates!
Often, a pet experiencing itchiness, redness, and hair loss in the caudal (low back) is due to flea allergy dermatitis or flea infestation. In this case, dermatitis is a symptom of the main problem, but the pet parent didn’t know their home might be infested with fleas.
I have noticed that some pet owners may feel offended when asked if they have a flea issue in their home, yard, or neighborhood; however, an essential fact is that flea cases are not an issue with cleanliness but rather prevention.
Fleas tend to reproduce and spread during the summertime—mostly in warm and humid weather, which means veterinarians see more cases of fleas in states such as Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Oregon, Louisiana, Washington, Georgia, and Texas.
I remember learning in a CE course the importance of asking the pet parent if their pet is on flea and tick prevention. Most of the time, the answer is “no!” and, in this moment, I always offer clients anti-fleas and ticks products.
In my experience, when my clients cannot believe their pets have been cohabitating with fleas, I take a comb and comb along the caudal area to check for flea dirt or larvae. Then, I clean the comb with a napkin or gauze; this way, they can see the fleas for themselves.
Fleas are very annoying for pets and can affect everyone’s health. For example, pets can get tapeworms while humans can become infected with the bacteria, Bartonella henselae. I’ve also seen pets who had so many fleas consuming their blood that they developed iron-deficiency anemia.
Fleas are back, so let’s all be prepared!