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We’ve all been there. You’re knee-deep in the last episode of the latest binge-worthy series and your dog (or cat!) won’t stop scratching. And chewing and scratching … what the heck!? So you shine a little iPhone light on the situation, and there it is. A swiftly moving black dot. They are the bane of our existence, but our disgust probably pales in comparison to how our pets feel. These little wingless vampire monsters can leave red, swollen, and “intensely” itchy bites, particularly to pets who are allergic. Those tiny bites can even lead to hair loss! There’s not much worse than a flea infestation. There are more than 300 species of fleas in the United States and they don’t just wreak havoc on our pets; they can also bite humans causing welts, fever, and even blisters.

Fleas live in warm, humid environments – think carpet, upholstery, and soil, especially in shady areas such as under a leaf. Here in Georgia, fleas can be active year-round. They hop from animal to animal, which is particularly vexing for families with pets at an apartment complex. Going up and down the stairs, in and out of entrances where other pets go, and even to a dog park can lead to your pet picking up fleas. Fun fact: fleas prefer to land on the head and neck area of cats and the rump and tail area of dogs.

The good news is that there are all kinds of remedies for flea bites, like aloe vera gel for humans and flea shampoo and a warm, soapy bath for pets. Start at your pet’s head and work your way back so the little buggers aren’t hopping to the ears and face of your pet’s head! Google ‘flea bite treatment’ and you’ll find a slew of home remedies. But there is one thing that trumps them all: PREVENTION.

Just ask anyone their number one regret after they deal with a flea infestation. They wish they had used flea prevention (oftentimes combined with tick prevention). Readily available from vets or pet stores, effective prevention can avoid discomfort, irritation, and all the side effects that come with fleas, including some severe and chronic illnesses. The best news? Preventing fleas is considerably less expensive (and frustrating) than treating an infestation. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “There are many [flea prevention] products on the market. Some are over-the-counter and some are prescription. Some are stand-alone products and some are in combination with other treatments/medications. Some are applied to the skin, some are worn as a collar, and some are given by mouth (orally). Some are given daily, some are given monthly, and some can last for several months. Depending on your lifestyle, your pet’s lifestyle, and your needs and preferences, your veterinarian will help you choose a product that works best for you and your pet.” There are so many choices! After reading the product labels carefully and administering your chosen prevention, do watch for any side effects or adverse reactions.

What’s next? Talk to your vet and do a little investigating; your pets will thank you!

May 25, 2023