yes, fleas are a winter thing too

As the colder season creeps upon us, a lot of us are staying inside to nurture our homes, nuzzle our pets, and bundle ourselves under blankets. Feels pretty good, right? One thing to remember, though: Make sure you're not accidentally inviting any nasty fleas to join your winter haven.

Fleas are adaptable, and when the weather turns nippy, they search for warmth. Your pet’s skin – and, not long after that, your toasty home – is right up their alley. It's the perfect environment for them to pick up where they left off in the steamy summer months.

Spot the signs, stop the fleas: what to look for and what to do

Watch for excessive scratching. While it's perfectly normal for dogs and cats to leisurely scratch themselves, excessive scratching in a particular area, often accompanied by panting or a curious sort of expression is what you might see. Flea bites are sharp and painful, and their salivary glands give off a substance that's irritating – or even allergenic – to cats and dogs.

Be on the hunt for flea “dirt.” This black pepper-like residue is the flea’s excrement. (Gross, we know.) It’s easier to find than an actual flea since the little critters move so fast. Check your pet’s bedding or anywhere else they like to hang out. If you find little black specks that turn red when you apply a bit of water to them, you’ve got yourself some flea dirt. Wash that material immediately and then vacuum your entire home, throwing out your vacuum bag when you’re done.

Find fleas hiding in plain sight. An adult flea is reddish-brown, about an eighth of an inch long, and smaller than the width of a grain of rice. It's estimated that for each adult flea you find on your pet, there are probably at least 100 or more teeny tiny baby ones populating your BFF. So as you find yourself petting your dog or cat, take an extra moment to comb through their fur with your fingers, exposing their skin for a casual check-up.

Well, we have fleas – what now?

  1. Wash all of your pet’s bedding immediately and vacuum your entire home and any surface your pet has lounged on. Throw out the vacuum bag when you’re done.
  2. Talk to your Banfield veterinary team about preventive care, including topical and oral remedies. These can destroy the entire life cycle of the flea, if applied monthly, and prevent any flea from landing and living on your dog or cat in the future.
  3. Be sure to ask your veterinary team about bathing your pet too – depending on the medication you use to treat the fleas, and the condition of your pet’s skin, they might have special recommendations.
  4. If an infestation is bad, consider also spraying all material surfaces in and around your home with a safe and effective home or outdoor spray.
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