If you have pets, particularly if they go outdoors, then fleas may very well be a fact of life. Therefore, it's important to know how to deal with this annual threat, which usually lasts from early Spring, until late into the Fall, when temperatures become too cold for them to survive in the outdoors.
Fleas are basically a type of parasite. They must have a blood meal to reproduce, so they jump on an animal, and even humans, bite, feed and jump off. Just finding one or two on your pet, is not a true indication of how bad your flea problem may be. But when you find them popping on and off you, or surfaces in your home, you have likely got a full-fledged infestation.
The reproduction cycle of a flea is such that if they do get inside your house, feed on animals, and then lay eggs, there is the potential of having to deal with them for months on end. Fleas can even bury themselves and their eggs deep in pile carpeting, where they will hatch 3-4 months down the road.
The key to stopping a problem before it develops, is to treat your pets, if they go outside. If you have strictly indoor cats, there is no need to treat them unless you have evidence of fleas being tracked inside by humans. This can happen, especially in the country, or hot, humid areas, which tend to give the breeding cycle a boost.
The most popular products on the market today, are Advantage, Revolution, and Program. Each of these has dosages and treatments designed for both dogs and cats of varying sizes. Advantage and Revolution are pesticide liquids that are applied to the scruff of the neck, and/or along the back where animals can't lick. When the flea bites the animal's skin, it dies. Program is a pill for dogs, and liquid for cats. This works not by poisoning the flea, but by introducing a flea hormone into the dog or cat's system, which will be ingested when the flea feeds on their blood. It prevents the shell case of flea eggs from hardening, thus ending the reproductive cycle when the fleas die.
All these products will kill off what is trying to feed on your pets, but if the infestation is fairly severe, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian for a pest control treatment for you home, as well.
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