It’s the beginning of the season for fleas. Don’t think your inside pet won’t get fleas. People can bring them in on our shoes and socks.

Skin is the “target” for exoparasites. Fleas and ticks easily pierce the thin epidermal layer with their blood-sucking apparatus to access the network of blood vessels in the dermis.

Pets exhibit flea irritation by scratching, chewing, licking and biting.

The tissue damage associated with inflammation may become too great for the skin to repair and opportunistic infections with common bacteria (principally Staphylococcus intermedius and Malassezia pachydermatis) can gain a foothold.

These tiny pests not only make your pet uncomfortable, but fleas actually cause a number of diseases, some of which can be fatal.

By protecting your pets from fleas, you are protecting them and yourself from severe health risks. Here are just a few:

  • Cat Scratch Disease: Humans get CSD when infected flea feces on a cat’s claws or fur is transmitted from the pet to their owner through a bite or scratch.

CSD can cause fever, headaches, and fatigue in humans, as well as make those with a weakened immune system seriously ill.

  • Tapeworms: If pets eat a flea that is carrying tapeworm eggs, they could soon become infected.

Once inside your pet, the tapeworm hatches and attaches itself to your pet’s intestines, causing weight loss, vomiting and irritation.

  • Flea allergy dermatitis: One bite from a flea can lead to hot spots and extreme itchiness for an allergic pet.

Hot spots are infected patches of skin that can become big wounds if left untreated. If your pet has a hot spot, take it to the vet as soon as possible.

  • Haemobartonellosis: This disease targets red blood cells and can range from mild to very severe symptoms.

If very severe, haemobartonellosis can cause cats to suffer anemia that results in weight loss and a fast heart rate. Without treatment, cats can die from this disease.

You can prevent the above afflictions simply by treating for fleas.

Ask your vet for the best monthly treatments for your budget and your pet.

Charlotte Bass Lilly is CEO of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Katrina. Contact ARNO at, or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.