Monday, July 16, 2007

Fleas Plague Sunshine State

By Alexandra Hackett from Tampa Bay's 10

Rhiannon is normally a happy energetic dog, but some tiny pests are making her miserable. "It’s been bad this time around I have never had it this bad," said pet owner Dena Bilella. Dena has been battling her dog's flea problem for a long time and just when she thinks it's under control, it pops up again, even during this exam.

Rhiannon also suffers from what's called “flea dermatitis”, her skin chewed raw from the itching. Dr. Heather Willis-Goulet, with Florida Veterinary Specialists, sees this all too often. Fleas don't discriminate. They love cats and dogs and Florida's hot and humid environment is ripe for a flea breeding ground. They live outdoors.

Only rarely do fleas jump from one pet to another. "They like it under rubbish in the yard, mulch underneath the house under….deep dark humid areas like that," she said.

Once a flea lands on your pet, it will start laying 50-eggs per day. "By the time you notice your dog has fleas, you have the whole life cycle: the eggs, the larva, the pupa, the adult, in your house and your yard," Dr Willis-Goulet sais. The doctor recommends a consistent treatment of adulticide and what she calls “flea birth control” to fend off both fleas and their eggs. But as with Rhiannon, it may take months to eliminate the infestation.

-Flea treatment for dogs should never be used on cats, because it can be very toxic.

-You usually don't have to treat your yard, but if you do, make sure it's something that's not UV-light sensitive, because it is degraded by the sunlight.

-Consult with your veterinarian for the best types of flea treatment and be sure to follow the label directions.