Natural Health Solutions: Picky Parasites
How could just one of your pets have fleas?
Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M.
As the weather warms up, fleas and ticks start to appear. During the winter months, fleas and ticks are dormant, residing in well-protected cocoons that resist cold weather. Once things start looking sunnier, these pests emerge from their resting places, ready to seek out any warm-blooded creature that happens by.
Now is the time to be proactive – before fleas and ticks bite your pets. If you had problems with fleas last year, two things can give your pets an advantage this year.
First, steam clean all the carpets in your house. Even if you did this at the end of the last flea season, another steam cleaning (which is inexpensive and easy to do) will kill any cocoons that might be hiding in the deep recesses of your carpeting.
The second thing you can do is spray beneficial nematodes (microscopic worms that kill fleas, available in home-and-garden stores) in your yard. Because nematodes are the only environmental treatment that kills the resistant cocoons, they are my preferred treatment for outdoor environments. Additionally, if beneficial nematodes are applied in the spring, you might kill the cocoons before adult fleas begin to emerge and seek out your pets.
Although fleas often attack all pets in a household, it’s not uncommon for them to prefer just one. I recently saw a client who owns two dogs and two cats. She was surprised that only one of her pets, a small Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, seemed to be a flea magnet and constantly itched. She asked me how it was possible that four pets lived in her house and spent time in the backyard, but only her poor Cavalier was bothered by fleas.
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