As we enter the height of summer heat, you may find yourself in an all-out war with fleas. These insects prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75 percent to 85 percent — so, for fleas, Louisiana can be a year-round paradise.
Dogs and cats often get infested with fleas through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the environment such as your yard or the dog park. A flea bite can cause, at a minimum, itching for your pet, but for sensitive or flea-allergic animals, this itching can be quite severe and leads to hair loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections.
Even if your dog or cat is an inside-only pet, they can still get fleas as it only takes one time for a flea to catch a ride into your home on shoes or socks or just come in through an open door or window.
Signs of flea irritation include: scratching, chewing, licking and biting. Fleas not only make your pet uncomfortable, but they can actually cause a number of diseases, some of which can be fatal. Fleas can also lead to illness in humans.
Some flea-related conditions include:
CAT SCRATCH DISEASE: Humans get CSD when infected flea feces on a cat’s claws or fur are 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 severe symptoms. If 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. To combat these pesky little insects, it is vital to keep your pet on regular flea prevention. Discuss with your vet what the right solution is for you.
ANIMALS ROCK: The Humane Society of Louisiana will be the beneficiary of an Animals Rock fundraiser beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at Southport Hall, 200 Monticello Ave., Jefferson. A $10 minimum donation is requested at the door. There will be live music, door prizes, a raffle and a silent auction. Rescued pets seeking loving homes will be on hand to meet the crowd. For information, call (901) 268-4432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW ORLEANS ADOPTION EVENT: Animal Rescue New Orleans will have an adoption event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at The Foundation Gallery, 1109 Royal St., New Orleans. For information, email email@example.com.
METAIRIE ADOPTION EVENT: The LASPCA will hold a pet adoption event and bake sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.