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There are many myths about fleas and flea treatment for cats and dogs, today we address five of the common myths and attempt to set the record straight.
If my cat had fleas I’d see them.
Not necessarily. Fleas are so small, that you may never actually see them on your cat or dog because they have groomed and licked them away. Instead, what you will notice is your cat or dog scratching a lot, you may see black/brown specks of flea dirt especially around the base of the tail, chin and ears, and you may see evidence of skin irritation.
My cat lives exclusively indoors so can’t have fleas.
Fleas jump from one host to another and will happily hitchhike into your home on the back of your dog, or on a human’s clothes or shoes. Whilst an indoor cat has a lower level of exposure to parasites and other nasties than pets that spend a lot of time outdoors, they are not without risk, especially if you have other pets in the household or live in a flea-prone area.
I only need to treat my pet that is showing signs of fleas not the other pets in the household.
Unfortunately not true. Some pets are more sensitive to fleas than others so the outward signs are more obvious e.g. they’ll scratch constantly or have visibly irritated or flaky skin. If you only treat the cat that is constantly scratching, there’s a high probability they’ll be reinfested by the other pets in the household who are likely to have fleas, but are not showing the signs.
Natural remedies are safe and effective flea control methods.
Environmentally friendly products are increasingly popular and there are many websites that proclaim their suitability for flea control and prevention. We’d suggest you err on the side of caution when using anything that is not recommended by your vet. Garlic for example is often recommended as a natural alternative to killing fleas, but it’s also extremely toxic to cats and can lead to severe poisoning and death.
Pets only need flea treatment during the summer months.
Many pet owners stop flea treatment during the winter months under the mistaken impression that fleas are only a problem during summer. In Australia, our temperate climate and warm spring/autumn weather extends flea season to 9-10 months of the year, so flea prevention year-round is necessary. Fleas also thrive indoors where temperatures are warm and well regulated all year round.
Top image: Hisashi via Flickr
Dolph Robinson says
Thanks for sharing! I always use a apple cider vinegar as a natural flea repellent and it works ok. But in case of strong flea infestation natural treatment is not very effective, only a vet can help. We’ve found a couple of kittens last summer and they were totally covered with fleas. My friend took them and now they are fine but when I saw tem at first it was terrible sight…
Rachel Sheppard says
The second myth listed is the one that I ran into the most while at the veterinary hospital. Great list!
I think the myth I hear the most is the one about pets living inside. I was giving my mom’s dog a bath an saw a flea and reminded her once again how important prevention is!
Beth | Daily Dog Tag says
Our cat is a former stray. When we brought a puppy home, we noticed she had fleas. Before long, our cat who was fairly reclusive at the time, had a terrible infestation of fleas. I had to take him to the emergency vet and treat our house. It was awful for him (and us.)
Jen Gabbard says
The first time we had fleas I was shocked – I kept suspecting my dog had them but I wasn’t actually seeing them so I kept checking each evening and I squealed the moment I saw one of those nasty little buggers. They are not easy to see; and if you have a pet with thick or dark fur it’s even more difficult. And they move/jump so fast.
Project Pet Mom says
Interesting post, thanks for sharing. Thankfully, Brick and Smokey have never had fleas. We use Diatomaceous earth during the summer months to keep the fleas away.
Aimable Cats says
Parker had ticks on her when she left the farm to become an inside cat. On the way out of town, we stopped at the vet to get her some flea and tick medication; I think Dr Brown had Frontline. The ticks were almost running off her. Now that she lives in an apartment in town, she does not get flea/tick medicine unless we make a trip back to the farm.
Fur Everywhere says
This is great information! We are lucky enough to live in a place where fleas are very uncommon. 🙂
However, back when Lita lived in Indiana before the Mom adopted her and brought her here, flea prevention was needed regularly. We know that Frontline is a good flea prevention and treatment product – the Mom’s sister uses it on their Shih Tzu. 🙂
Christy Paws says
After dealing with the horrible three infestation a couple of years ago, mom now treats us year- round with a topical monthly flea treatment that contains an insect growth regulator like Frontline Plus.
Jessica Shipman | Beagles and Bargains says
I agree with all of these myths except #4. I can’t fathom putting something on my dog that I can’t touch myself, so we use natural remedies that are safe. You need to do your research, but in my experience natural remedies can be successful too.
Ann Staub says
OMC – yes!!! When I worked as a vet tech, #1 was one of the most common things I heard from clients. It’s a bit embarrassing, but one of our clients deemed me as the “flea girl”. People would bring their itchy pets in and claim they did not have fleas. I was able to find a flea on almost all of them, even when vets could not lol… it’s a weird skill to have I guess. Of course, many clients would say the fleas must have jumped on at the clinic.
Fleas are such a pain! Manna had them when we first brought her home. Luckily, she was a very small 3.5 week old kitten and there weren’t a whole lot of places for those fleas to hide. We were able to get rid of them fairly quickly with some gentle baths. Back when I had dogs, fleas were a much bigger problem. It took a lot of time and money to get rid of them. Prevention is definitely the key.
When we lived in an apartment a new lady with a dog moved in next door. Within 2 days, my 2 indoor cats had fleas! When we lived in the apartment we always used flea-prevention after that! Now that we own our own home we haven’t used any and have been ok (so far anyway!)
Kristen–well minded says
Since moving to Arizona about ten years ago, I’ve, thankfully, never seen a flea in our home or the homes of any of my clients. I guess the climate doesn’t suit them.
Carma Poodale says
We found out that Molly Mew was giving us dogs fleas because we play outside so much. Now ma treats her with a monthly treatment and we all live comfortably.
Michelle Wolff says
We always had great luck with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast across the animals food. Not sure why it works but for us it works well and it’s really inexpensive
Talent Hounds says
Great post. We have been lucky so far with our pets but am definitely looking at alternatives for the summer here (I am from Sydney but am living in Canada). Thanks
Cathy Armato says
Excellent myth busting about fleas! Especially the one about indoor pets being safe from fleas. Even indoor pets can pick up fleas. Nasty little buggers!
Thank COD we have not had any problems with fleas here. They are tough to get rid of!
The Island Cats says
So far, we’ve been lucky and have never had fleas.
Mom puts stuff on me once a month so I am safe from fleas and other stuff.
I love your very informative blog and I, personally, love Frontline. Mama sidles over to me when I’m resting and scratches between my ears and then quickly puts the little liquid thingy in the same place and I don’t know what’s hit me. Very cool product. Also Beaphar Calming drops….all natural. I wrote about them in a blog. Made from valerian… they work!
The Swiss Cats says
Mum learned about fleas the hard way when Angel Isis and Angel Hercule, Persians only-indoor cats, got fleas. Since then she applies us our flea treatment regularly… and it’s Frontline 🙂 !
Ellen Pilch says
I learned that indoor cats get fleas the hard way when we got infested last summer.
WE are having a war with the fleas right now and I am so sorry I didn’t do more during the winter. They are so hard to get rid of. Great post.
When the Cat is Away says
Just to make sure: you recommend monthly flea prevention even if there’re no signs of fleas and your cats are indoor cats? I didn’t know that! I knew they could catch fleas even though they are indoor cats, but I didn’t think about preventive treatment.
My human says the worst flea-infestation she ever had was with a cat that was indoors-only – the little creeps were bouncing off the carpet! It took quite a while to get rid of them.
glen in louisiana says
thanks for stopping by and commenting about my Basset Boyz. They were not my breed of choice, but I do love them. I miss my kitties, lost the last one a year ago. It is the first time without mousers!