Pesky pests on your pet

Vets recommend preventative flea treatments

Your pet could be suffering this summer, and not just from the heat.

A mild winter combined with a hot summer has led to an increase in flea cases.

Without a deep freeze, the pests were never killed off. Fleas can survive temperatures as low as 34 degree's Fahrenheit.

The life cycle of fleas lasts three months. This means that even after an infestation is treated, larvae could hatch and attach to pets.

Letting a flea infestation go untreated can have serious consequences for your pet's health.

"If it's a small puppy or kitten they can actually suffer from an iron deficiency anemia, or a low red blood cell count, and that can be a life-threatening disease," Melissa Grundel explained. Grundel is a veterinary with Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic. "If it's an adult dog they suffer from a lot of flea allergy dermatitis, so the dogs who are allergic to the bite of the flea. They suffer from skin disease that's very itchy, it can become infected."

Once fleas are in the home, they are easily passed between pets.

Pets can pick up fleas at dog parks, boarding facilities, or any place they are around other furry mammals.

"Wild mammals are the ones that bring them into our yards. Feral cats or feral dogs, they also bring them into our yards. That's how our companion animal pets, our house pets, get them," Gundel said.

While fleas prefer cats and dogs, in cases of severe infestation, they will make their home on humans.

Some tell-tale signs of a flea infestation on an animal are scratching, missing fur, irritated skin, black specks around the tale, and finding the small black insect on the animal.

The best way to avoid an infestation is to consistently use a preventative method on pets. Gundel says oral treatments as well as those applied directly to the skin are available in all price ranges.