Fleas on Vancouver Island is what mosquitos are to Manitoba! Summer through fall can be a time for fleas to flourish in our environment. Unlike other areas of Canada, our mild coastal weather make fleas a problem all year round with the worst season stretching from April to November. Unfortunately, one flea can lay up to 200 eggs on your cat, which can stay in your carpets and on fabrics for up to 12 months before hatching. Fleas can also carry tapeworm, which can infect your pet and many skin related conditions such as flea allergy dermatitis are also associated with flea infestations. Another pest we tend to see starting in the spring through to the end of fall is ticks. Although not as common as in some parts of the province, ticks can be a real problem for pet owners in the Comox Valley and tick awareness is growing among pet owners.
What are fleas?
Fleas are small, dark, wingless, external parasites that live on mammals and survive by feeding on their host’s blood. There are several different species of fleas, some being host specific (cat flea vs. dog flea). Although the fleas we find on our pets do not like to live on humans, they rarely pass up the opportunity to bite! An adult must take a blood meal before they can reproduce and an adult female flea can lay up to 5000 eggs in their lifetime!
How can fleas harm my cat?
Fleas can be harmful to your cat in several ways. Fleas carry tapeworm which can be transmitted to your cat, which is why we strongly recommend you deworm your cat with an appropriate tapeworm medicine if treating for fleas. Several pets also suffer from flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) which can be very uncomfortable and can cause a secondary skin infection requiring medications. In severe cases, fleas have also been known to cause anemia which can cause lethargy and in the very extreme cases even cause death in very young, flea infested kittens.
Why is treating and preventing fleas important?
Treating and preventing fleas is important to stop an infestation from entering your home and for the overall health and well being of your pet. Prevention is key. Once fleas are detected, treatment is typically required for a minimum of 3 months in order to break the lifecycle.
Simple steps for treating fleas in your senior cats?
Treating fleas is simple! The best treatment is prevention and this rings just as true for our senior cats. There are several safe products for use on senior cats and your veterinarian will help answer any questions or concerns you may have. Some senior cats require long-term medications for other illnesses or disease. Your veterinarian can guide you on the safest form of flea prevention to use if your cat is currently taking other medications.