As if dealing with seasonal allergies isn’t enough, our pets also have to contend with the re-emergence of fleas. These pests are a problem in south Louisiana year round, but they are most prominent in the spring and summer months. They are a constant threat and one of the hardest to combat.

Fleas are literally out for blood.

They reproduce at a rapid rate. Once fleas appear, expect to have flea eggs within about two days; the eggs hatch within 10 days. One female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her short lifespan.

Adult fleas use dogs and cats as their feeding ground for blood and for breeding. They will either lay eggs directly on the animal or in the immediate area, such as inside a home or backyard. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, grass, etc. The larvae develop into pupae, which hatch into adults. An adult flea then latches onto an animal, and the never-ending cycle continues.

Fleas are not just a pet problem. When they arrive, it’s a problem for the entire family. Not only do they cause itching and irritation, they also can cause more serious health issues for pets. Severe flea infestations can cause pets to become anemic from blood loss. In addition, parasites, including intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, are commonly spread through fleas.

If a pet is scratching and chewing a lot, but fleas are not visible, it does not mean that they are not present. Fleas spend the majority of their time in the environment, not on the pet, so they may be difficult to find. Check carefully for fleas or signs of flea dirt, which looks like coarsely ground pepper.

If one animal in the household has fleas, it is safe to assume that all pets in the home have been infested. For every one flea found, there are likely hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in the area. Taking proactive steps to prevent an infestation is the best course of action.

There are several flea mediations on the market, but a visit to the veterinarian is the best source for preventing and getting rid of fleas. It is important to note that not all flea medications are equal. Some over- the-counter products can be ineffective and even harmful to pets. This is not a battle to embark on alone.

EVENTS

SUNDAY: Pet First Aid/CPR Course, sponsored by the Louisiana SPCA, will be held at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., from 9 a.m. to noon. Find out what to do if your dog suddenly stops breathing or your cat cuts her paw on a piece of glass and more. This hands-on training course will teach the basics in animal handling, restraint, pet first aid and CPR using realistic animal mannequins. Learn what to do in common emergency situations before seeking veterinary care. Course fee is $50; preregistration is required to secure a seat at www.la-spca.org/cpr.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, email molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com.