With flea season upon us, many pet parents are interested in learning the best ways to avoid having to deal with a flea infestation in the first place. “Fleas are the most common external parasite in North America,” said Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, staff doctor at NYC’s Animal Medical Center. “In the desert Southwest and the Rocky Mountain States, where the humidity is low, fleas are uncommon, but in other areas, fleas are found outdoors in cool shady areas, which is where most pets acquire them. They can also be spread at places like boarding kennels and doggie day care.”
Barring moving or never exposing your pet to other animals, there are ways to help your pet avoid flea bites, and it starts with understanding how your pet could get fleas in the first place. Dr. Hohenhaus shared the most common ways she’s seen pets contract flea bites with us, so you can be prepared and take steps to keep fleas off your pets.
1. Spending time outdoors without flea control products. Whether you live in an area that’s known for flea infestations or not, it’s best to always keep your dog or cat up-to-date on his flea treatments. “The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends all pets be treated year-round with flea control products to help pet families avoid a flea infestation,” said Dr. Hohenhaus. Products like K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Treatment for Dogs can help free your pet of flea bites and prevent further infestations, which will help your entire household avoid the stress that comes with having to deal with them. While Dr. Hohenhaus says that flea infestations are still a fairly common problem, they’re much less prevalent now because there are many easy options available to help treat the issue.
2. Being an indoor cat who lives with an outdoor dog—or vice versa. Even if your pet lives indoors and rarely, if ever, has contact with animals you don’t know, if you also have a dog or cat that spends time outside, then your indoor pet could be in danger of contracting a flea infestation. Be sure to treat both your cat and your dog with proper flea prevention. And don’t forget to treat your home, too—especially all the spots where your pets sleep and hang out. Vet’s Best Flea + Tick Home Spray for Dogs & Cats uses a blend of peppermint oil and clove extract to control and kill fleas, flea eggs and ticks on contact, and it’s safe for use on or around both dogs and cats 12 weeks or older.
3. Moving into a new apartment or home. Whenever you’re moving to a new place, it’s not a bad idea to take steps to prevent a flea infestation. Be sure to vacuum everywhere and throw out the bag when you’re finished, then carefully follow the instructions for flea sprays or bombs to kill off the rest of the fleas. Virbac’s Knockout Area Treatment Spray is great for covering larger areas. For extra precaution, you could always hire a licensed exterminator to check the place out before you move in.
4. Sharing beds or bedding with a flea-infested pet. Social and friendly pets who often share toys and bedding with other animals may be more likely to be at risk for flea infestations, as well. Remember to always keep your pet up-to-date on his flea treatments, and if you bring your pet’s bed or plush toys into someone else’s home, launder everything in hot water when you get home to ensure that fleas don’t make it back with your pet from his playdate.
5. Being a pet who travels south with his snowbird pet parents. Vacationing with your pet is so much fun, but returning home to deal with fleas on your dog is not. When you travel to warmer destinations for the winter, don’t forget to bring along your pet’s flea medicine. Keep products like Seresto’s 8 Month Flea & Tick Collar for Large Dogs & Puppies on hand so that you always have a way to help prevent your pet from flea infestations, no matter where his travels take him.