You may think that fleas on your animal is more of a nuisance than anything, however did you know they can cause serious medical issues? In young kittens or puppies, a large amount of fleas can actually be fatal.
How do I know my pet has fleas and where can he/she get them?
I get the comment of “my pet is not scratching, so he/she does not have fleas” quite a bit. If I can leave you with one important message from this blog, it is that that statement is not true. Only animals with flea allergies have itching associated with flea infections. You or your veterinarian need to inspect your pet closely on a regular basis to make sure he/she does not have them.
Another common misnomer is when people tell me their pets do not have fleas because they are indoor only. Fleas can be in your house. Your pet could walk through grass and carry fleas into the house. You yourself could pick up fleas on your clothing and bring them in the house. There are many ways your pet can get fleas, so it is important that he/she is on flea prevention year round.
People can also be very adamant that they do not have fleas in their household because the owners themselves have never been bitten. Fleas actually only bite humans when they emerge from their cocoons. This means that there is a significant population of fleas in the house that has been present for weeks or longer.
What is so bad about fleas? I know they can make some people squirm but an occasional flea here and there never hurt anything right?
Several fleas on a neonatal animal can actually cause them to be anemic. This is when their red blood cell count is low. Depending on how low the count is, we can see internal organ or brain damage. These young animals typically need a blood transfusion and aggressive flea medication for survival.
We can also see many diseases spread by fleas. One of the most well-known is cat scratch fever or Bartonella. Cats with infected fleas scratch themselves, the flea dirt gets under their claws. If they scratch another cat or person, they can spread the disease.Humans can develop enlarged lymph nodes, a severe rash, and even systemic issues involving the heart and spleen in severe cases.
What signs do I look for if I think my pet has a fleas?
Most importantly, know what your pet’s normal gum color is. It should be pink. If you think your pet’s gum color is light pink or white, it is important to bring them to your local veterinarian for an examination and possibly a blood level test. If you notice a large amount of fleas on your pet, it is important to get them on flea preventatives right away. You may also see evidence of flea dirt. This is little black specks that are actually dried blood packages that the flea leaves for its larva. You can see these specks on your pet, most commonly on his/her back near the tail. You can use a flea comb to help assess for flea dirt.