The impact of fleas on pet health

Fleas, those tiny parasites almost imperceptible to the naked eye, represent one of the most persistent and problematic pests for both humans and domestic animals. Their ability to jump great distances and their resistance to treatments make their control a constant challenge.

Veterinarian Mario Feiman (MT 1006), in an interview with El Litoral, explained in detail the multiple problems that fleas can cause and the complexity of eradicating them.

A persistent problem

Feiman noted that fleas are no longer a seasonal problem. “Before, the problem occurred mainly in summer or spring-summer, but now we practically have fleas all year round,” she explained. These parasites not only affect dogs and cats, but can also pass from one species to another. “Fleas from the cat can be passed to the dog and vice versa. They can even bite humans. However, in humans they are not permanently present as they are in dogs and cats.”

They can trigger allergic reactions in many dogs.

Health problems in pets

The consequences of a flea infestation on pets can be serious. The professional described a variety of health problems that these parasites can cause. “A large number of fleas can cause anemia due to the blood loss they cause. “Also, they can trigger allergic reactions in many dogs, which manifests as a skin disease commonly known as flea allergy dermatitis.” This condition is caused by flea saliva, which is the main allergen that causes intense itching and discomfort in pets.

In addition to allergic reactions, fleas are vectors of internal parasites. “There is a particularly problematic parasite, whose biological cycle begins when the dog or cat ingests an infected flea. This parasite develops in the pet’s intestine, competing for nutrients and causing weight loss and other health problems, such as mild neurological disorders or obstructive hepatitis,” Feiman explained.

Fleas, those tiny parasites almost imperceptible to the naked eye.

Difficulty to combat them

Fighting fleas is not an easy task. “No flea product kills the eggs, so it is necessary to act on the larvae and adults. The biological cycle of the flea is approximately between 15 and 21 days, so it is necessary to repeat the treatment every 15 or 21 days to control new generations of fleas,” explained the veterinarian. Female fleas can lay approximately 200 eggs, which aggravates the situation, since they can survive up to two years without food.

The professional highlighted that although there are many items on the market to combat fleas, they develop resistance to treatments over time. “The only products that are really working are anti-flea pills or tablets. It is important to mention that what works for dogs is not always safe for cats. For example, pipettes, which are losing effectiveness, can poison cats if used incorrectly.”

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Control strategies

To effectively control a flea infestation, it is crucial to treat all animals in the home. “If you have two dogs or a dog and a cat, you should treat all of them with flea control, not just one,” Feiman said. Even animals that do not leave the house can become infested with fleas. “A cat can walk through the yard and leave fleas that then infest the dogs or cats that live inside the house.”

These insects can live in various environments, such as parquet flooring, carpets, dirt or grass, making complete eradication a challenge. “Fleas go up and down animals throughout their biological cycle. “You may not see fleas on your pet today, but you will tomorrow, as it only takes one flea to cause a serious allergic reaction.”

Prevention and treatment

The veterinarian stressed the importance of prevention and continued treatment. “In addition to treating pets, it is necessary to clean and treat the environment where they live. “Vacuuming carpets, washing pet bedding, and using environmental flea products can help reduce the flea population in the home.”

 
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