“The Good Word” by Dr. Carol Good – Rockford Animal Hospital

*Fall Fleas Are At Their Worst*

     Summer is over and the fall season is here but that doesn’t mean the possibility of flea infection is fading. In fact, I have been talking to more people with flea infections in the last week than I have in the last 3 months. This is because, in West Michigan, the risk of flea infestation is at its highest in the fall. Now, at first glance, it may seem that summer months would be the most risky time for exposure to fleas, but it’s not. Let me explain why.

In the early spring, the flea cocoons, which hibernated outside through the winter, wake up from their dormancy when the temperatures begin to rise above 50 F. They hatch and jump onto any warm-blooded mammal that walks by such as raccoons, skunks and your pet. Once the fleas get a blood meal, the females begin laying eggs at a rate of 50 per day. These eggs will take from 5 to 21 days to grow up into new adult fleas and at least half of them will be female who will begin laying more eggs. This continues on and on. So that, by October, each original female flea has produced trillions and trillions of offspring, all hungry for a new host on which to feed.

The plain truth is: if you aren’t using flea protection, your pet and home are more likely to be infested now than any other time of the year because of the sheer numbers of fleas. As I’ve said in past blogs, the financial cost and headaches that come with treating a flea infection in your house and on your pet is much greater than the price of a monthly preventative plan. Not to mention the pain of human and pet allergic reactions to flea bites and the diseases that fleas can spread to your pet like tapeworms. Besides, who wants the “Icky-factor” of fleas crawling on your own body and biting you?

If you’ve stopped using flea control with the end of summer, I hope I’ve convinced you to get back on the bandwagon. If you’ve never given a flea control product and don’t know what product is best for your pet, I’d be happy to discuss the pros and cons of what’s available and give you a recommendation. Just call, stop by, or e-mail Rockford Animal Hospital for advice.

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