Pet owners can take steps to protect their furry friends from fleas.
By KANTELE FRANKO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
For pet owners, flea season is as much a part of summer as swimming pools and lemonade, but experts and local veterinarians have warned that a wet winter and mild, rainy spring might produce record populations of fleas.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, Americans own more than 60 million pet dogs in the United States and nearly 70 million pet cats.
And fleas are a threat to each of those 130 million pets, even those that remain indoors year round, because fleas are attracted to heat, said Dr. Donald Allen, a Boardman veterinarian.
Fleas can enter a home by attaching themselves to a human and later come into contact with a pet, he said.
Though flea eggs hatch when warmer weather comes, fleas can reproduce year-round, Dr. Allen said.
Because flea baths and over-the-counter products have a lower level of effectiveness, medications provided through veterinarians are the best way to kill adults fleas and prevent flea infestations in advance, he said.
Costs of the most popular monthly flea treatments provided by veterinarians, such as Advantage, Advantix and FrontlinePlus, can range between about $50 to $80 for seven applications, depending on the type of pet and its weight. Combination medications that treat both fleas and other problems, such as ear mites and heartworm, tend to be more expensive.
In addition to killing adult fleas, pet owners need to treat the result of a flea infestation, said Dr. William Hradil, a veterinarian at Ebert Animal Hospital in Boardman.
If a cat or dog has been bitten, veterinarians can provide medications to treat the bites, he said.
Dr. Hradil said pet owners have options when trying to kill fleas and their eggs in spaces occupied by an infected dog or cat.
Putting two moth balls in the sweeper bag when vacuuming carpeted areas will attract fleas into the vacuum, and washing both the pet and its bedding on a monthly basis will help to decrease the flea population and the number of eggs, he said.