SoCal is a Flea Resort!
Living in California, we get to enjoy beautiful, temperate weather all year long. However, we aren’t the only ones. Unfortunately, our lovely SoCal weather is also the perfect climate for fleas to thrive and reproduce. This spells trouble for us pet-parents who don’t want our puppies or kitties to get irritating flea bites or to bring a flea-infestation into our homes. Because our flea season never really ends, preventing flea infestations should be a priority year-round. Being proactive and preventing fleas from hitching a ride on your pet or crawling into your yard can save you months of battling an infestation.
Adult fleas are tiny and their larvae and eggs are microscopic so most pet-parents notice their pets scratching at the irritating flea-bites before they are even aware that they have a flea problem. By the time most pet-owners notice a flea infestation, the adult fleas that are visible on your pet make up only about 5% of the flea population living on and around your pet. For this reason, it is much easier to use preventative flea repellents on your pets and yard before it gets to the point where there is a visible infestation on your pet. Without any deterrents, fleas can hitch a ride on pets, human shoes, or wild animals to get into your yard and home and then crawl, undetected, around your home until they find a host.
Treat the Fleas Living on Your Pet
Adult fleas can live over a hundred days and jump on and off different host animals, so all pets in a household need to be treated for fleas at the same time. The adult fleas are the easiest to spot on your pet and to exterminate. Most flea shampoos and sprays will kill the adult fleas that are on your pet at the moment. However, they do not prevent other fleas in your pet’s environment from hopping right back on your pet. If your pet’s environment is full of fleas then temporary treatments, like a flea bath, will not effectively keep fleas off of your pet. Pets are often the ones who bring fleas into your home or yard initially so prevention starts with a lasting topical treatment on your pets.
Topical treatments, like Advantix, Frontline, or Seresto collars can effectively kill and repel fleas for months. There are also natural flea medications that use essential oils to repel and kill fleas. These are a good option for pets or pet-parents with skin sensitivities. Choose a flea treatment that is appropriate for your pet’s age, weight, and species (many dog flea-control treatments are toxic for cats). Because topical or edible flea-treatments are absorbed into your pet’s skin, it is best to switch up your flea-treatment brand every few years as the pet’s body will begin to metabolize and pass a flea-treatment faster as their bodies become used to it. Pets that love to swim or get frequent baths will also shorten the effectiveness of topical flea-treatments. Some, like the Seresto collar, can be taken off for bath times and then put back on, but other topical treatments may need to be reapplied more frequently to stay effective.
Having a topical treatment on your pets before they have fleas can prevent fleas from hitching a ride home on your pet. This will save you the hassle of dealing with a flea infestation and will also save your pet from getting uncomfortable flea bites and potential, secondary worm infestations.
Treat the Environment
Most flea treatments will exterminate the adult fleas on your pet but they will not treat the other 95% of fleas that will have moved into your pet’s living space by the time you’ve seen the adult fleas. Every female flea on your pet will lay about 50 eggs a day that will roll off of your pet and hatch within a week wherever your pet goes. The flea larvae will immediately crawl into cracks in flooring or deep into furniture and carpeting indoors. Larvae outdoors will seek warm, humid, shady spaces and wait there. After another week, the larvae will form a cocoon that they can stay inside for anywhere from 7 to 200 days. Cocooned fleas will actually wait for optimal conditions, like warmth and movement (which indicates that host animals are nearby) to hatch. This cocoon is nearly indestructible but you can encourage it to hatch quickly by vacuuming frequently to simulate that warmth and movement, so that the adult fleas can be exterminated.
Once fleas have entered your home, you will need to treat your pets and your home all at the same time to stop the flea life-cycle. Any pet bedding, furniture covers, and rugs that can be machine washed should be repeatedly until the flea infestation is handled. Larvae, like adult fleas and flea eggs, can work their way into the tiniest cracks in floors and furniture but they can be killed by several different flea sprays or powders. Once fleas have entered your home, these environmental treatments will need to be left down for at least a month or two in order for all the fleas to hatch and be killed. Vacuuming frequently can speed up the process but you will need to reapply flea powders after vacuuming and work them down into carpeting and furniture for them to be effective. Vacuuming will pick up fleas at all life-stages. Cutting up a cheap flea collar and putting it into your vacuum bag can prevent them from crawling back out of the vacuum.
Since fleas can crawl or hitch a ride from your yard into your home, treating the area around your home can make a big difference in a temperate climate like Southern California. Making your yard unattractive to fleas with natural repellants is an easy way to prevent a home infestation. There are several yard sprays that kill and repel fleas naturally without affecting plants or animals. Target warm shady areas and areas where your pet spends a lot of time.
Soothing the Flea Bites on Your Pet
Itching is not always a good indicator of whether or not your pet has fleas. Pets itch for many different reasons so brushing or washing your pet and looking for fleas or flea-dust is a good way to confirm that fleas are present before you choose treatments. Flea-bites will cause an irritation on your pet for up to two weeks after the bite and potentially longer if your pet is allergic to flea bites. The itchiness will continue after your flea treatment begins working but you can help your fur-kids out by brushing a soothing anti-itch spray onto their irritated skin until the inflammation goes away. Repeated flea baths can dry their skin out, even if you use a gentle shampoo, so we recommend that you wash an itchy pet no more often than once every six weeks. Depending the severity of your pet’s reaction to flea bites, Kahoots carries a range of soothing sprays that will reduce inflammation and promote healing. The itching and irritation that comes with fleas can be very frustrating for you and your fur-kids but it will heal after the infestation has been completely dealt with.
Secondary Worm Treatment
Once you have treated your pet and your pet’s environment for fleas and exterminated the pests, you may want to treat your dog or kitty for tapeworm. Fleas are the natural carriers for tapeworm and when animals groom themselves, they ingest fleas that can infect them with tapeworm. Following a flea infestation, look for small, white tapeworm segments that look like grains of rice in your dog or cat’s stool or bedding area. Treating tapeworm can be as simple as giving your pet a small tablet from your local Kahoots if you treat it before it becomes severe.
Prevention is the Key!
Breaking the cycle of flea-infestation can be a frustrating process that takes several months of work once fleas have established themselves in your home or yard. Making your pets unattractive hosts for fleas can save you time and money. Using flea deterrents on your pets and in your yard discourages fleas from setting up permanent residence in your home. In addition to treating your pet with flea-deterrents, you can help your pet’s natural chemistry fight fleas. Fleas are more attracted to animals with weaker immune systems. Giving your pet a high-quality diet and supplementing it with brewer’s yeast, omegas, and probiotics can boost their immune system and skin health which will help them naturally deter fleas.
Kahooligan Tip - A little prevention goes a long way in sunny California, where the fleas party all year long!