Fleas are Environmental: Scratching up Solutions

Oregon and fleas go together like, well, pets and fleas. Needless to say, it’s a problem if you have furry friends at home. Not only can they get in your clothes, your furniture, and even your carpet fibers, but they also wreak havoc on your pet’s skin, which can cause hair loss and intense scratching that only exacerbates the issue. 

It’s important for new and experienced pet owners alike to be familiar with the flea issue in western Oregon, and to take the necessary steps to prevent such problems from getting worse. If you and your dog or cat spend any amount of time outside, you need to be proactive for both your sakes. 

According the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, flea season isn’t isolated to a specific time of year here in Willamette Valley; although it spikes between spring and fall, fleas are able to survive all year due to the moderate climate. They’re also capable of harboring and transferring tapeworms, bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. 

“It’s really bad,” says Veterinary Technician Sandi Hering of Pioneer Veterinary Clinic. “The dry and hot season is when we see the most.”

If you want to keep your pet and your home flea-free, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your vet and start a regular preventative medication. Not only will you keep unwanted pests away from your pet, but you’ll save yourself money by not having to pay for serious treatments every couple of months. 

“It’s hard to recommend the right drug because there’s such a variety, but it’s 10 percent a pet problem, and 90 percent an environmental problem,” says Hering. “We typically use NexGard or Advantage, but it really depends on how bad the problem is for each animal.”

Fleas aren’t exclusively found on pets; they’ll call opossums, rats, and other critters home, too. It’s important to treat your pet’s environment, as well as your pet, so that you can rid yourself of the problem for good. Plug up holes around the house, get rid of yard waste and debris that make it easy for animals to burrow under, and try to limit the amount of standing water that collects near your property. 

If you’re worried your pet might have fleas, here are some of the classic signs your dog or cat needs help, provided by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association:

You can see adult fleas on your pet or around the house.

The presence of flea excrement, or “flea dirt,” which turns reddish brown when exposed to water. 

Your pet’s skin is irritated and they’re scratching excessively.

Flea eggs, which look like white ovals, stuck to your pet’s fur.

Remember, the medication you use for your dog could be lethal if you try it on your cat. Make sure you check your labels and get the dosage correct before administering to your pets.

By Nick Stollings

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