Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

May 29, 2012

Fleas are a year-round problem

BLUEFIELD — One of the worst things about this time of year is the increase of fleas on pets, outside, and, possibly, in homes.

Adult fleas cause the most problems for pets. In order to become adult fleas, the blood-sucking creatures need warm weather, between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and about 70 to 80 percent humidity, said Dr. Alison Diesel, lecturer in dermatology at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

“Those ideal conditions are exactly what we are experiencing during this time of the year, which is why we generally see more fleas coming out in the spring,” Diesel said.

She added that fleas can be present year-round in some southern states because there is not usually a “true winter.”

Fleas can cause various problems for pets. Some animals, for example, are allergic to an allergen in the flea saliva causing the animal to have an allergic reaction. This causes the animal to scratch, which could lead to a secondary bacterial skin infection. If there is a large flea problem, anemia could be a potential problem, especially among small animals that do not have large amounts of blood.

Amanda Friedeck, a veterinary technician at the CVM, said there is no way to completely prevent fleas, but a key factor to controlling fleas is breaking the life cycle.

“The best way to control fleas is to break the cycle,” Friedeck said.

Diesel said the flea life cycle has four phases: the adult fleas lay eggs, the eggs hatch into larvae, the larvae turns into pupae, which, eventually, turn into adults.

“The easiest stage to target is the adult flea since these lives on the pet. The other stages (eggs, larvae, pupae) are present in the environment,” Diesel said.

Both Diesel and Friedeck said the best way to determine treatment of an animal’s flea problem is to take them to a veterinarian to discuss the best options and medications.

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