How Dangerous are Fleas?

In this third part of our six-part series about fleas, we will discuss why fleas are not just an itchy irritant, but also a threat to the health and well-being of you and your pets.

Fleas can cause a wide variety of issues for you and your pets.

As the weather warms, fleas become more commonplace and in areas such as Conroe, where fleas are an issue all year, the potential for infestation becomes higher as spring fades to summer. Fleas are much more than an itchy nuisance; they cause health threats to you and your family.

Flea bite dermatitis

The most common problem is “flea bite dermatitis”, an allergic reaction in the skin caused by flea saliva. This condition is characterized by intense itching and scratching resulting in varying degrees of skin damage. Lesions can appear anywhere, but the most frequent locations are on the animal’s back and at the base of the tail — these areas are open pathways for infection. Unfortunately, finding the offender and flea removal is only half of the battle. The allergic reaction and resulting lesion must also receive veterinary care for proper treatment and to avoid complications.

Hot spots

Flea bites can also present as what is commonly called a “hot spot”. These often appear as circular lesions at the location of the flea bite that is most actively involved in the itch-scratch action. Once again, removal of the allergen, the flea, is only half of the battle. The skin damage must also be treated topically.

Tapeworm

Another problem of a flea infestation is tapeworm intestinal disease. These are parasitic infections occurring when fleas are consumed as your pet chews or bites at the itch caused by the flea bite. The tapeworm is inside the flea, and once it is swallowed, the infection begins. Recognition of the disease occurs when the segmented parasites are seen in the animal’s stool or on the hair near the anus. Segments often look like small grains of rice. The primary problem tapeworms cause is the itch response around the rear end and in severe cases, weight loss. Treatment of a tapeworm infection is important; dewormers specific for tapeworms work well.

Anemia

Finally, a less common medical issue caused by fleas is blood loss, or anemia. “Flea bite anemia” is usually seen in young puppies or kittens. It results from a severe flea infestation where adult fleas are in such massive numbers that they literally drain the blood from the young pet. When this anemia occurs, it should be treated as a medical emergency and timely veterinary care is required to reverse the effects.

The climate of Conroe creates an environment where fleas are a fact of life all year. Understanding that they can cause severe conditions for you and your younger pets should be important. The best way to reduce the effects of these pests is effective flea prevention and control, and, if needed, effective flea treatment. For all of your flea and tick prevention and treatment needs, visit Conroe Feeders today!