While we have been enduring freezing temperatures on the Central Coast and watching many agricultural industries suffer, I thought I would put a positive spin on the cold spell. In our beach communities, we generally tell people that we have flea problems all year ˜round. Fleas like our temperate climate. The repeated frosty mornings should be killing off fleas and greatly reducing their numbers. This will likely mean that we will have fewer flea numbers throughout the spring – but they will be back. Flea colonies that are able to avoid the frost will survive and multiply. These colonies are the ones found in our homes, garages, barns, under decks and even in our cars! If you want to take advantage of the recent cold weather to reduce flea numbers in your entire environment, we recommend that you treat your indoor areas now. Removing a flea colony from your home can be tricky. You must kill all the adults and juveniles, and prevent any eggs from hatching. This is best done by first cleaning well and throwing out your vacuum cleaner bag or emptying the canister into a bag you tightly seal. Wash pet bedding, clean under cushions from the couch and clean up piles of stuffed dog toys. Then either use a professional exterminator or bomb your home with a product that includes an insect growth regulator. All pets should be bathed on that same day. Apply topical flea control products to all pets. It is best to repeat this process in 2-3 weeks to kill any newly hatched fleas.
While the flea numbers are likely to decrease, tick numbers will not. be sure to keep up your tick control measures throughout the winter. If you have questions about parasites of dogs and cats, call us.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP