Common Flea Myths

As we say farewell to colder temperatures, fleas begin to welcome themselves to the warmer weather and our pets as they spend more time outdoors. In warmer climates, flea season is year ‘round, while in seasonal climates spring, summer and early fall are the troublesome seasons.

What is it about the flea that makes my pet itch? It’s an allergy to the flea’s bite! As temperatures warm, veterinary dermatologists see an increase of patients with flea allergies, one of the most common dermatologic diseases in dogs.

By debunking a few common myths about fleas, you will be better prepared for flea season.

Myth #1 – If I don’t see fleas on my pet, I don’t need to worry about flea allergies.

One bite from a flea can cause an allergic reaction.  It can cause a pet to scratch and bite the area for up to seven days.  A flea-bite allergy can also complicate things for pets with existing skin conditions by aggravating the pre-existing condition.

Myth #2 – I only need to be concerned with the fleas because of their bite.

Fleas can be a pest beyond their bites and infestations. If a cat or dog eats a flea, which often occurs when a pet is biting an itchy area, the pet can get tapeworm from the flea. If your pet has tapeworm, you might find tiny, white worms in your pet’s feces, backside or bedding.

Myth #3 – My home is flea-free, I don’t need to treat my yard, too.

Pet owners with a severe flea problem should always treat their yards and home. In your yard, it best to apply flea-fighting products in the evening, because the sun’s UV rays can degrade the efficacy of the product. Fleas like to be in moist, dark areas. Be sure to treat both indoor and outdoor areas such as under furniture or covered areas in your yard.  And, always remember to use products that are safe for your pets.

Myth #4 – Most people use flea products correctly.

When products are used as intended, they are safe. Unfortunately, many pet owners overlook details that can lead to the wrong dosage of flea medication. The most common mistakes occur when pet owners split a single dose of medication among many pets and the medication becomes ineffective. It may appear to be a lot of fluid but if the entire dosage is not used it will not be enough to kill fleas or last the entire month. Another common mistake is forgetting to give the medication every month or as frequently as recommended by the manufacturer.

Myth #5 – All flea preventatives are created equal.

Depending on the product, some only kill adult fleas, while others are designed to kill other stages of a flea’s life.  Some products also kill ticks. Be sure to speak to your veterinarian about the best product for your pet.

Myth #6 – Cats and dogs can use the same products.

Flea products meant for a dog can be fatal to cats! Always consult your family veterinarian and read the label carefully before using a flea product on your pet.

Myth #7 – I don’t need to use flea control every month.

Pets who live in warmer climates, such as Florida, should use a flea preventative year ‘round. Wild animals, such as opossums, drop flea eggs into your yard, parks and neighborhood.  These eggs develop into fleas eager to jump on you and your pet. With no flea control on your pet, that one flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day infesting your home, yard, and even your car.