Identifying a flea infestation can often be simple, while eradicating their population proves much more difficult. Observe your pet’s behavior as a first step: if your pet is scratching excessively, you should examine his or her fur. Infested animals have reddened skin and may lose hair. The hind quarters of dogs and the head and neck of cats are most commonly targeted.
The life cycle of the flea is composed of the egg, larval, pupal and adult stages. Cycle length ranges from several weeks to several months and is largely dependent upon environmental conditions.
The following are some guidelines for dog and cat owners to follow when choosing and applying a flea control product:
Never use insecticides on very young animals, pregnant or nursing pets, debilitated or elderly animals without consulting your veterinarian. With such pets, you may want to consider avoiding the use of insecticides directly on your pet. Instead, you could comb the fleas off the pet with a flea comb then submerge the captured fleas in a small container of soapy water. This would also be a good alternative for those pets who love being groomed but who violently refuse baths or the application of a spray.
Before using any product on your pet, read the label instructions completely. If you do not completely understand the instructions, you should contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian for clarification. Observe the species and age requirements listed on the label.
Never use a product labeled “for use on dogs only” on your cats. Cats react very differently than dogs to some insecticides. Some dog products can be deadly to cats, even in tiny amounts.
Use caution when using products that contain organophosphates in your house or on your cat. Cats seem to be sensitive to certain organophosphate insecticides. Currently, there are few flea products in the United States labeled for use on cats that contain organophosphates as an active ingredient. The few that can be used on cats contain a small concentration of organophosphate. However, many household sprays and products that are specifically labeled “for use on dogs only” are widely available. Again, never use “dog only” products on your cats!
Never use flea control products that contain permethrin on your cats, unless they are specifically labeled for use on cats. There are some products that are labeled for use on cats that contain small concentrations of permethrin, usually less than 0.1%. When used according to the label instructions, these can be used safely in cats.
Always use caution when using shampoos, sprays, topical spot-ons or mousse near your animal’s eyes, ears and genitalia. Accidental exposure could cause mild irritation to these sensitive tissues.
When using a fogger or a home premise spray, make sure to remove all pets from the house for the time period specified on the container. Food and water bowls should be removed from the area also. Allow time for the product to dry completely before returning your dogs or cats to your home. Open windows or use fans to “air out” the household before returning your pets to the treated area. Strong fumes can be irritating to your pet’s eyes and upper respiratory system.
If you are uncertain about the usage of any household product, contact the product’s manufacturer or your veterinarian to explain the directions before use of the product.
Insect growth regulators like lufenuron, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen can be used in combination or alone with flea control products. They can help break the flea life cycle by inhibiting flea maturation. Growth regulators have minimal adverse effects and can improve the efficacy when used in combination with adult flea insecticides. You should consult your veterinarian or pest control specialist for advice concerning proper use of these products.
Just because a product is labeled to be a “natural” product does not mean that the product is completely safe. Many such “natural” products can be harmful when used inappropriately on cats. For example, d-limonene and linalool are citrus extracts that are used as flea control agents. Though they are natural products, they still can cause harmful side effects if used improperly.
Cats and dogs are the favorite nesting grounds of four principal groups of worms and a few species of microscopic protozoa. The four worms are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Among the protozoa are coccidia, toxoplasma, giardia, and ameba.
It’s very important to bring your pet’s fecal sample (bowel movement) to your veterinarian as often as requested up to one year of age. Collect fresh fecal sample within 12 hours of an examination. It is also very important to keep the samples cool or refrigerated. A microscopic examination of the fecal sample will be performed to identify the worm’s eggs.
Under some conditions of poor hygiene, worms can be transmitted to humans