My Pet Is Scratching...

Pet is scratching

We've been hearing this a lot recently, so we are going to go ahead and share with you the #1 cause of 80% of these cases that come in for itching and scratching... did you guess it? FLEAS!!!!!!

Fleas are so common, that sometime we forget just how resilient and "sneaky" they are. Don't be fooled, fleas are parasites and feed off your pets (and your!) blood. Their bodies are made for jumping and their compressed shape means that it's also easy for them to run through the hair of your pet. Although there are many different species of fleas, the most common one is Ctenocephalides felis, a cat flea that actually prefers dogs. A female flea requires a "blood meal" in order to lay her eggs. Their droppings, the reddish-brown "flea dirt" (made up of coagulated blood) that you see on your pet, is actually what larvae need to feed on to live.

fleas ticks in pets

You may not always see live fleas, and you may even currently have your pets on flea

preventative, but time and time again it's been proven that they are biting and the flea allergy dermatitis, as it's called, is what's sending your poor fur babies into a wild frenzy of biting, chewing and scratching.

We've compiled a list of common misconceptions and their answers as to why and how these pesky parasites are causing such a commotion this time of year:

My Vet told me that my pet has fleas BUT...

1. I haven't seen any fleas on my pet or in my house:

A: A flea infestation does not necessarily mean you have live fleas jumping all over the place. In fact, 90% of a flea infestation is actually flea eggs. Studies show that for every adult flea you have in your home, there are more than 100 flea eggs. Did you know that a female flea lays more than 30 eggs per day? Gross, we know. Flea eggs can be hard to spot as they are less than 0.5 mm in size, white and sometimes even transparent. And here's the kicker: these eggs can be in the cracks of wood or places that are very well hidden from vacuums and cleaners. You could have gotten rid of a population of adult fleas and even flea larvae but if you miss even 1 egg... well it only takes one flea to continue the population.

The best way to rid a house of flea is to use a professional exterminator. If this is not an option you can buy over the counter bug bomber (sometimes called a flea flogger) This will ensure all stages of the flea are eradicated even in places cleaning can't get to. source:

flea bomb
flea exterminator pets

2. My pet has been on a flea preventative

A. Flea preventatives kill on contact. Unfortunately, this means that fleas can still come in contact with your pet! If your pet comes into contact with an adult flea, even while on preventative, a single bite could cause an allergic reaction. FAD, or flea allergy dermatitis, is the most common allergy in pets. Pets with FAD are not only irritated by flea bites, but are also allergic to the parasite's saliva, which contains 15 reactive components. When the pet receives his first flea bite, his immune system responds and sets up a hypersensitivity reaction. The reaction manifests itself as severe itching and even hives. Often when scratching and chewing a pet can actually introduce more bacteria and cause secondary infections on the skin. This means a bite from a single flea can set off a delayed itch reaction from flea bites received over the past six months.

If your pet is on a flea control program and still suffers occasional flare-ups, itching can be controlled with antihistamines. In severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe oral steroids or even hyposensitization. Prevention is key, but if you are noticing your pet is still scratching, make sure to bring he or she in to see your Vet and get ahead of the problem!


fleas flea dirt pets allergies

3. My pet's don't go outside...

A. There are a few potential scenarios as to why this group of pets are still having flea problems. The most common is that the fleas are either already inside the premises, or that they have hitched a ride on your clothes or belongings (or other pets that come to play) and were literally carried into the house. Remember, it only takes 1 flea to start an infestation. Fleas like the warmth, so when the weather starts to drop they are even more likely to try to find a way inside! Once inside they start laying eggs and then it's off to the races or the Vet, the exterminator, and the bank... :(

We recommend keeping all pets on flea preventative year-round. Simply put because it's safer, healthier and less expensive for your pet to prevent an infestation than to try to get rid of one. If you choose not to, just remember that it is still possible for fleas to come inside the house and that could negatively impact your pet's health! Fleas can cause FAD but also tapeworms, hair loss, skin infections and anemia. (Not to mention just being a pest!)

4. It's too cold outside...

A. Nothing but cold-hard facts here (yes, pun-intended ;) Fleas can live outdoors in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for up to five days (long enough to latch onto your dog, come into your home, and relish in the warmth of your living room). Flea eggs can live year round in protected areas such as crawl spaces or porches. The chances of your dog or cat getting a flea or tick in the wintertime are considerably lower than in the warmer months. That’s for sure. So, you might be willing to play a game of chance. However, if you lose that game... (see 1-3 above)

Flea and tick medicines can be seem taxing, both financially and chemically. These are the two biggest reasons why people don’t use them all year round. However, time and time again, reports show that these applications are safe and that most adverse reactions are a result of user error (such as an owner giving the wrong dosage to a pet) - and that it is much more costly to treat for a flea infestation and associated pet health problems vs the cost of preventatives. At the end of the day it's an owner's choice - we just want to make sure you have all the facts so that you can be an informed and responsible advocate for your furry companions!

cat has fleas

dog has fleas

'Tis the season for fleas. Many people think that spring and summer are when fleas are at their "worst", however when the weather starts to get colder, the fleas are more likely to try to a hitch a ride inside!



If you have noticed your pet scratching, or need to re-up on flea/tick preventative don't hesitate to call our office at

215-232-0831 or come stop in for a visit!

(There are lots of different brands on promotion right now when purchased in-clinic)

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Philadelphia PA 19130
TEL: 215.232.0831
FAX: 215.232.0832
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