Due to the mild winter that was had by northwest Georgia, not only are humans taking a toll, but so are man’s best friend and cats, too.
According to the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA), an early spring has resulted in a greater number of varmints, including insects and parasites sooner in the year than usual.
Veterinarian Dr. Keri Hogan, of Calhoun Pet Care, said that she has seen an increase in pet owners bringing their pets with complaints of irritation.
She said that she has seen “an increase mostly in fleas and flea infestation complaints by owners.”
Hogan said that her advice to pet owners is that same that it always has been, but she said that due to the increase in pests, people are actually listening.
“Use flea control every month (12 months) out of the year, and treat your yard and kennel,” advised Hogan. “Control your dog and cat’s environment by fencing, leash walks et cetera; the larger the roaming area, the more difficult to keep controlled.”
Hogan said that if it was necessary that pet owners could double up on product. She said that pet owners should also be sure to not over groom pets, as well.
“Do not over bathe; only twice monthly at the most,” explained Hogan. “Do not use flea and tick shampoos regularly, because they may dry out your pet’s coat and/or skin and irritate them.”
She went on to say that pet owners should use flea prevention, “preferably a Frontline, Advantage, Comfortis on every animal in your environment, even for indoor cats.” Pet owners should also remove any source of flea nesting, such as carpet remnants or rugs.
“Only use bedding that can be washed on a regular basis,” explained Hogan. “Do not get discouraged. Breaking a flea infestation cycle can take up to four months.”
According to Hogan, pet owners should assume that there pets have fleas simply because they live in Georgia.
“Treat, treat, treat,” said Hogan.
There are also signs that could point to the fact that a pet has fleas or some sort of infestation.
“Chewing primarily at the tail and head area is a good indication of fleas,” explained Hogan. “If you do not see fleas, this may be because the animal is chewing them off of the body. If you see no live fleas, but do see a black peppery looking substance that is flea excrement, the waste left behind from a flea after a blood meal, which is proof that your pet has had fleas that have lived on them over 12 hours.”
She went on to say that this has allowed the fleas to have a blood meal and potentially breed producing more fleas in your environment.
Ticks are also something that pet owners should keep an eye out for.
“For ticks, be sure to check between toes, in ears and around anus,” explained Hogan. “Remove gently in the direction of the tick.”
Primarily fleas enjoy shaded, cooler areas such as shaded yards, mulch, under porches and decks, said Hogan.
“Ticks are prevalent in brushy and wooded areas,” said Hogan. “Wildlife such as raccoon and opossum, as well, as loose running dogs and stray cats are common vectors for causing flea infestations.”
She went on to say that pet owners should focus on treatment areas where these animals congregate or try to control the pet’s environment, said Hogan.
Hogan also advises pet owners to not be in “flea-nial.”
“Consult your veterinarian; do not get offended by the suggestion that your animal or environment has fleas,” explained Hogan. “The flea life cycle is very complicated and can be a very hard one to halt. Seek professional counsel and be open to suggestions.”
Flea Control Facts
-- A flea infestation cannot be eliminated within a few days.-- Once treatment has begun it can take three to eight weeks (occasionally longer) before the flea infestation is eliminated.– This is because the home and/or yard are infested with flea eggs, larvae, pupae and adults emerging daily.
– Remember, the fleas you see on your pet today came from flea eggs laid three to eight weeks ago.
Flea Control Objectives
1. Relieving pet discomfort
– Kill fleas on pet(s). Treat all pets in household.
2. Eliminate premises infestation
– Administration of residual insecticides that kill newly acquired fleas (within 24 hours) before they can initiate reproduction.
– Application of insecticides and/or IGRs into the premises in cases of severe infestations or flea allergy.
– Year-round flea control program