Now, more than ever, fleas are becoming a problem. In fact, according to a Kansas State University study, flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common dermatologic disease of domestic dogs. That’s because when fleas feed, they inject saliva that contains a variety of histamine like compounds, enzymes and amino acids that induce hypersensitivity. So, what do pet parents need to know to protect their pets?
Here are six common misconceptions about fleas:
1. If you don’t see fleas on your pet, there’s no need to worry about a flea allergy.
FALSE! Even if you don’t see fleas, your pet can have a flea allergy. One flea bite from a flea can cause an allergic reaction. That one bite can make the pet scratch and/or bite the affected area for 7 days!
2. When it comes to a flea, you only need to worry about a flea bite.
FALSE! If a cat or dog eats a flea, they can get a tapeworm. What the pet owner will see is tiny little white worms or rice-like segments on the pet’s backside or bedding.
3. No need to worry about treating your yard or home for fleas.
FALSE! If the problem is severe, you can treat the yard and the house. With regard to the yard, it’s best to apply products in the evening, because the UV light from the sun will degrade it. Fleas like to be in moist, dark areas. So, be sure to clean up any rubbish or thatch in your yard. Fleas also like to live under raised mobile homes. Be aware of those shady areas of your yard. With regard to the house, flea foggers aren’t always effective because the insecticide settles on top of furniture. Fleas will simply go under your couch and into the dark areas.
4. Most pet owners are using their flea products correctly.
FALSE! Some people do not put the entire dose on their pet. Or, they’ll split the dose between two pets. The products, used as intended, are very safe. Pet owners should be using them every month. Also, frequent bathing or swimming can reduce the insecticide levels. Be sure to bathe and dry your dog before applying the flea product.
5. All flea products are created equal.
FALSE! Some flea products only kill the adult flea. Those products do not take care of the eggs that are released onto the pet. The best products kill the adults AND control the eggs.
6. Cats and dogs can share the same products.
FALSE! You cannot put dog flea control products on a cat. Some of them are actually toxic to cats. Read the labels very carefully and be sure the product is formulated for cats before using it.