Tiny black dots . . . that bite!

Most pet owners wish they would go away and never come back. Not their pets. I am among that group of pet owners: I am a foe of fleas!
This has been a tough winter. It seemed that the colder the weather, the closer the fleas clung to our pets. The flea comb has been busy, with the cat’s under-fur making it hard to find the little critters. Once found, though, the little black dots seem to vanish even as fast as I spot them.
My mother used to find them on our longhaired black cat, who hated being combed. Only she could find a flea on him, and then she killed the fleas on the ironing board – with a steaming hot iron!
There are families of fleas: cat fleas and dog fleas, and even human fleas. They’ll bite just the same.
The Black Plague that decimated Europe in the 1300s? Fleas are accused. They hitched a life-sustaining ride (for them, anyway) on rats and other rodents.
What makes fleas so formidable is the fact that they can lie dormant in the larval stage for weeks. Finding a host, they quickly make up for lost time by laying hundreds of eggs, every day.
Ridding your home of fleas must be a concerted effort. Trying to interrupt their life cycle is the ultimate goal.
1. Keep pets indoors as much as possible, once flea treatments have been distributed. Re-exposure is inevitable if your pet goes outdoors where fleas survive on wild animals and in the ground.
2. Wash bedding – hot water and a mild detergent for all pet bedding. Ditto for the family bed if your pets sleep with you, as often as you’re able to manage it. Even the family car might need a good vacuuming too!
3. Vacuum – daily removal of pet dander and fur from carpets (and I mean DAILY) may make the vacuum-shy pet cringe with fear, so be generous with your soothing afterward. Bare floors must be done too, but they are easier to clean and offer little cover for fleas to hide.
4. Flea treatments – whether chemical or organic, treating all pets at the same time is ideal. BUT – remember that cats must have ONLY CAT flea treatments. Do NOT use DOG treatments on your CAT.
Better yet, call your veterinarian for a recommendation before you treat, especially if you have not treated your pet for fleas before.
To be most effective, flea repellents should take into account the size and weight of your pet, what species they are, and the state of their health.
Pets who are sensitive to chemicals may tolerate alternative treatments but first consult with the veterinarian. What may seem like a reaction to the flea treatment may be an allergy to the flea bites, or vice versa. Since the object is to rid your home of the minute creatures without harming your pet, advice from the vet can be very helpful.
Here, the flea comb is ready. Hopefully I won’t have to fire up the steam iron to go hunting the little pests.

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