Keys to Common Myths About Fleas
The cool, damp weather in the Eureka-Wildwood area is setting the stage for a bad flea season.
Myth No. 1: A healthy pet won't get fleas—While not a guarantee, it is true that a healthy animal is a much less attractive host for fleas. That's one of many good reasons to feed a high quality diet of natural food. However, even a healthy pet can get fleas, so keep a watchful eye out and use a natural flea repellent on all at-risk pets.
Myth No. 2: Fleas live on pets, not in the house—Fleas usually enter the house on pets, but they can quickly find refuge in the house. Carpets, bedding, pet beds, and upholstered furniture make cozy homes for fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae. If you find fleas in the house, you must take quick action to eliminate them there (as well as on your pet, and even in your yard).
Myth No. 3: Keeping the house clean will prevent fleas—Unfortunately, fleas can infest even the most spotless home. Fleas usually enter the house on your pets, but they also can hitch a ride on clothing, and have even been seen to jump right into the house on their own. Hard-surfaced floors are no protection, either. Fleas can live in the cracks and around the edges of wood, laminate, or tile floors. They also can take refuge in furniture, bedding, and area rugs. It’s critical to get rid of fleas in your yard. Creating a flea-free buffer all around the house is a great way to prevent infestation.
Myth No. 4: If I only see a couple of fleas on my pet, then it’s not a big problem—More than 90 percent of a flea population is in the egg, larval, or pupal stage, all of which take place off the pet, usually in carpet, bedding, or furniture, or shady areas in the yard where your pet hangs out. If you see a few fleas, it’s certain that there are hundreds of eggs and immature stages in the environment.
Myth No. 5: Once the fleas are gone from my pet, the problem is solved—Fleas do not surrender easily. If you have seen fleas on your pet or in your house, you need to treat the house with a safe product, and stay vigilant for months. Fully solving the flea problem requires a three-pronged approach of treating the pet, the house, and the yard. Use an outdoor treatment in shady areas under decks, bushes and trees, where fleas like to hang out. The best approach is prevention, so always protect your pets with a natural flea repellent, especially if they spend time outdoors or at a dog park.
Myth No. 6: I don’t have to worry about fleas during winter—Although you may not see them in the winter in cold climates, fleas can live quite comfortably in your house, as well as on wildlife. If your pet or your house had fleas during the warm months, you’re likely to have fleas during the winter months as well. If your pet goes outdoors and has contact with squirrels, birds, or other wildlife, they can still get fleas.
Myth No. 7: My veterinarian can most effectively treat fleas—It is fine to consult your veterinarian about flea control, but be wary of the chemical flea control products they may recommend. (See Myth No. 8)
Myth No. 8: Chemical spot-on flea products are an easy and safe way to prevent fleas—They are easy, yes, but they are not necessarily safe. The Environmental Protection Agency recently completed an in-depth investigation due to the hundreds of reports of illness and death in pets. Serious adverse effects were reported for every product the EPA assessed and the EPA is in the process of increasing restrictions on their use.
Myth No. 9: Chemical flea collars are an easy and safe way to prevent fleas—Flea collars are the least effective control method and they tend not to last very long. Conventional flea collars that use chemicals may contain potentially harmful residues that are transferred to your pet's fur and can be transferred to humans who handle them.
Myth No. 10: Natural flea control products don't work—Although many natural flea control products don't have to go through EPA-mandated tests because they aren't classified as pesticides, this doesn't mean that they don't work. Many people use the natural approach to flea control effectively, and although it is not always as easy as using chemicals, you can rest assured that the products are safe for your pet and your family!