How to rid pets of fleas

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Following the long stretch of rain and humidity, an influx of fleas were left behind.

Myrtle Beach is in a hot zone when it comes to fleas. Furthermore, inland areas have major issues with ticks as well. Pets become a big target for the unwanted pests. So if you have not checked your pet's fur recently, you should do so as soon as possible.

In the South, flea season is actually year round because of our naturally humid environment.

If you see a flea on your pet, veterinarians say you should be concerned because it's guaranteed that there are more along with tons of larvae hiding in their fur. Once you start treatments, it will take a solid three months to make sure you kill all of the fleas that are alive and the larvae that are bound to hatch. And as long as you're getting your flea medication from a vet, you shouldn't have to worry about your pets having allergic reactions to the chemicals.

"The majority of products are very, very safe for animals," said Dr. Matthew Stone, Myrtle Beach Animal Hospital. "They've tested them, very strictly. It's like any other prescription medication in order to get approved. The ones that we see the problems with are the ones that are over-the-counter that don't have the FDA oversight."

And it's not just the fleas themselves that can cause irritation. Sometimes dogs and cats are allergic to the saliva from these gross critters. That could send your pet into a fierce scratching fit that could lead to tearing their skin and bleeding.

If you have ever seen a flea or tick on your pet, your top priority is to take care of your cat or dog. But you also need to take care of your home.

The key is to take action right away. Fleas absolutely love warm, humid environments above 60 degrees. So a climate-controlled home is a perfect breeding ground all year round.

If your pet has fleas, once they start rolling around on the carpet, they'll transfer them to the carpet. And that's how the vicious cycle begins. Fleas do not normally attack humans, but if they want to they can.

"Fleas can bite humans," Stone said. "But for the most part they're going to prefer the animal. So as long as you get good control of the animal, for the most part they're going to leave humans alone. Unless you get such an overwhelming flea problem. Sometimes we have seen people get bitten."

If your home is completely infested, you should consider calling an exterminator. But exterminators say that if you catch it early on, you can also attempt to do it yourself and save some major cash.

First, consider buying some "flea bombs". You can find them online and in most big-box and pet stores for $13 to $15. You'll normally need to set off just one flea bomb per room, but be sure to cover all your kitchen surfaces and food before you do.

Then wash all your bedding and everything your pets come in contact with. Finally, sweep, vacuum and steam clean the entire house. And immediately empty any vacuum bags. If you don't, the fleas and larvae you sweep up could possibly survive and reinfest your home and pet again.

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