Integrative veterinarian Dr. Laurel Davis offers “Stories from a holistic vet,” the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter” with a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, vaccination and lifestyle advice for dogs and cats and their human friends across the USA.
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What? Fleas in My House?!?
As I mentioned last week, the topic of fleas comes up regularly with clients at Sunvet Animal Wellness. I am asked: how I can help their flea allergic four-legged buddies who are suffering and how can I stop these pesky blood-suckers dead in their tracks? Fleas on your canine or feline friend are one thing, but what happens when the infestation moves into the sanctuary of your home? The myths about fleas and how to deal with them are partly why they strike terror into the hearts of so many. Without further ado, I’ll bust some flea myths about your house!
Flea Myth: Fleas only live on animals, not in houses.
While it’s true that fleas need your four-legged friends’ blood to reproduce and thrive, they may be able to last for two months without access to their food source. It’s vital to remember: this is a “more than meets the eye” situation. Within a household environment, the fleas will be occupying their domain to the tune of 5% adult fleas, 10% pupae (the stage directly before an adult flea), 35% larvae (the stage that hatches from the flea eggs), and 50% flea eggs. Generally speaking, the human population only considers what is before their eyes: adult fleas. Whoa! All the other prepubescent fleas (pupae, larvae, and eggs) are rocking their maturation process with one item in mind: puppy and kitty blood, their elixir of life!
Flea Myth: I have applied the flea product to my dog/cat, who was coated with fleas, so I don’t need to worry about fleas in my house anymore, right?
Whoa! Big fat myth! At fifty eggs laid per flea per day, we are talking thousands of eggs that will hatch out within two days, under optimal conditions. Oh yeah, did I mention your home has the optimal condition for the flea life cycle at any time of the year? Surprise! There is much more to flea warfare than meets the eye: constant vigilance is needed. The reason you continue to see more fleas on your buddy is because even more are hatching out every minute. You must up your anti-flea ante. Hint: Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum! Flea eggs aren’t attached to their host. They do drop off and hatch on the floor, in the carpets, cracks between floorboards, bedding, or anywhere! Vacuuming not only removes and kills the fleas but the eggs and pupae as well, so it hits them at every stage of their life cycle.
Flea Myth: My cat doesn’t go outside, so we don’t need to worry about fleas in my house.
Let’s face it, your strictly indoor kitty is probably going to remain flea-free unless those little beggars ride in on your pant leg (which can happen!) or your furry one visits your screened-in porch regularly or, of course, if you have a dog. Your dog can definitely be a flea bridge into your inner sanctum. So, don’t bury your head in the proverbial sand… Get real and monitor your cute purr-bucket with a flea comb. Don’t be caught by surprise!
One thing is for sure. Those pesky little bloodsuckers are here to stay. They will never be totally eradicated. Believe it or not, they do play an important role in the web of life, although I might be hard-pressed to tell you what that function is! By arming yourself with information and an understanding of their lifecycle, along with staying vigilant, you can get the upper hand over these little jumping pests.
Dr. Laurel Davis is a holistic Asheville vet offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.