Moving to a new house or apartment is stressful enough, and an infestation of fleas waiting there to terrorize your pets will only cause more headaches. Before you unpack your boxes, here are a few ways to check out your new home for fleas so you can eradicate the problem beforehand.
Do the Sock Test
Put on a pair of white cotton socks and pull them up to your calves, then walk around your new home. Make sure to spend time on any carpets that have been installed. If there are adult fleas present, they’ll likely jump up and hitch a ride. Shuffle your feet to create warmth on the floor, as fleas are attracted to heat, and linger in spots you suspect they’d inhabit. You’ll see fleas as brown or black specks against your white socks if they are present.
Check for Flea Dirt
Fleas have the unfortunate tendency to leave behind visible droppings, which their young will eat. This is called flea dirt, and it looks like a sprinkling of black pepper. If you see black, coarse specks along the floor or carpet, rub it with a moistened white towel. Flea dirt will appear as tiny red streaks on the cloth when cleaned in this manner. Where there is evidence of flea dirt, you’ll probably find fleas.
Pay Extra Attention to Carpets
Fleas can lay eggs in carpets, so even if the previous homeowner tried to eradicate the pests, a new breed might have been left behind. Run your hands through the fibers of the carpets and look for evidence of flea dirt or eggs. Flea eggs are tiny white ovals and will be difficult to see without a magnifying glass. If you have one handy, make it like Sherlock Holmes and bring it along for a thorough search.
Use Heat and Water
One way to check for fleas is by attracting them with heat. If your new home already has electricity hooked up, you’ll need a lamp, a bowl, warm water, and dishwashing detergent. Fill the bowl with warm water and make it slightly soapy with the detergent. Next, place the bowl on the floor and shine the lamp over the water. Fleas will be attracted to the light and jump up towards it, then land in the water. The soap kills them, so you’ll have plenty of evidence of their presence floating in the bowl.
Don’t Forget to Check the Yard
Fleas are hardy parasites that can survive and breed outdoors. But once they hitch a ride on your pets, they’ll spread through your new home quickly. Check shady, moist areas outside for fleas with the sock test. They tend to hang out in areas the sun doesn’t shine, as well as under porches, shrubs, and around trees.
Once you find out where the fleas are hiding, you can start to treat your house and your yard to rid yourself of the pests. If you like your house to have tiny intruders, you're more than welcome to keep it that way, but we think your pet would appreciate any efforts to keep them flea-free.
What Diseases Do Fleas Cause?
You may think that these tiny pests only make your pet do a little scratching and itching, but fleas actually cause a number of diseases, some of which can be fatal. By not protecting your pets from fleas, you are exposing them and yourself to severe health risks. Here are some of the diseases your pet could contract:
Yes, this is the same plague that caused the death of over a third of the European population back in the Middle Ages. While it’s no longer common for humans to get the plague, your pet can still become infected. A flea that has taken a bite out of an infected wild animal, like a prairie dog, chipmunk, or vole, can easily infect a dog or cat and pass along the disease.
Plague-infected cats and dogs will have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and may even die suddenly without much warning. If you think your pet has the plague, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately and isolate your pet from other animals to stop the plague from spreading.
Cat Scratch Disease
While Cat Scratch Disease usually does not affect cats in a negative way, it puts their owners at risk. Fleas transmit CSD from one cat to another, and close to 40% of cats will carry this disease at some time in their lives. Humans get CSD when infected flea feces on a cat’s claws or fur is transmitted from the pet to its owner through a bite, lick, or scratch. CSD can cause fever, headaches, and fatigue in humans, as well as make those with a weakened immune system seriously ill.
How does a dog biting a flea end up with your pet carrying tapeworms? Simple. If the dog eats a flea that is carrying tapeworm eggs inside their bodies, then that pet could soon become infected. Once inside your dog, the tapeworm hatches and attaches itself to your pet’s intestines, causing weight loss, vomiting, and irritation.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
All it takes is one bite from a flea to cause Flea Allergy Dermatitis, leading to hot spots and extreme itchiness for your pet. Dog hot spots are infected patches of circular skin that could soon become a big wound if your pet continues to itch and bite at it. Even your dog’s tongue licking the wound spreads the bacteria around. If your dog has a hot spot, you should take them to see your vet as soon as possible.
While usually transmitted by ticks, haemobartonellosis can also be carried by fleas. The disease targets red blood cells and can range from mild to very severe symptoms. If very severe, haemobartonellosis can cause cats to suffer anemia that results in weight loss and a fast heart rate. In some cases, infected cats have been observed eating dirt, and without treatment, cats can die from this disease.
Haemobartonellosis is most likely to affect dogs who have had their spleens removed. It can cause loss of appetite and weight loss for our canine friends.
What’s the best way to keep your pet from suffering from any of these afflictions? Treating them for fleas, of course! There are many options you can choose from, from spot-on solutions to oral pills. Decide which one is best for your pet, and keep them healthy year-round!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my house is infested with fleas?
Before moving into a new house, it's important to inspect the property for signs of fleas. Ask the previous owner or landlord if they have ever had a flea infestation or if there are any pets that have lived in the house. Look for signs of fleas, such as bites on your skin, pet scratching, or flea dirt on carpets or furniture during any initial visits to the property. Inspect the carpet, upholstery, and curtains for any signs of fleas or flea dirt. You can also use a white towel or cloth and drag it along the floor to see if any fleas or flea dirt come up. Check any areas where pets have been, such as the pet's bed or toys, for signs of fleas or flea dirt. Hire a professional pest control company to inspect the property for fleas before moving in. If you do find signs of fleas or suspect an infestation, it's important to take action before moving in. You can request that the previous owner or landlord treat the property for fleas or hire a pest control company yourself. It's also a good idea to treat any pets for fleas before moving them into the new house.
How easily do fleas transfer from house to house?
Fleas can transfer from one house to another if they hitch a ride on a person, pet, or object that carries the fleas. Fleas can attach themselves to shoes, clothing, luggage, or any other item that has been in contact with an infested area and then be transported to a new location. Fleas cannot fly, but they are excellent jumpers and can jump up to 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally. This means that they can easily jump from one host to another or from an infested carpet to a person's pant leg. If you are moving to a new house, it's important to take steps to prevent the transfer of fleas. You can do this by treating your pets for fleas before moving, washing all clothing and bedding in hot water, and inspecting your belongings for fleas or flea dirt.
How many fleas in a house is considered an infestation?
The number of fleas needed to be considered an infestation depends on several factors, including the size of the house and the number of pets living in the house. However, in general, if you see more than a few fleas in your home, you may have an infestation. A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, and those eggs can hatch within 2 to 14 days, so a flea infestation can grow rapidly. If left untreated, a small number of fleas can quickly turn into a large infestation. In addition to seeing fleas, other signs of a flea infestation include flea dirt on carpets or furniture, pet scratching, and bites on humans or pets. If you suspect a flea infestation in your home, it's important to take action quickly to prevent the infestation from getting worse.
Will fleas in the house go away on their own?
Flea infestations will not typically go away on their own, as fleas can reproduce quickly and are adept at hiding in carpets, furniture, and other areas of the home. Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day, and those eggs can hatch within a few days. This means that a small infestation can quickly become a large one if left untreated. Fleas can also survive for long periods without a host, which means they can remain in your home even if your pets are no longer present. In addition to being a nuisance, fleas can also transmit diseases to humans and pets, so it's important to take action to eliminate the infestation as soon as possible. To effectively get rid of fleas in your home, it's best to consult with a professional pest control company. They have the knowledge and equipment to identify the extent of the infestation and use appropriate methods to eliminate the fleas. Treatment typically involves a combination of vacuuming, steam cleaning, and the application of insecticides to kill adult fleas, larvae, and eggs. It's also important to treat your pets for fleas to prevent re-infestation.
Where do fleas nest in houses?
Fleas can nest and hide in a variety of places in a house, but they typically prefer warm, humid, and dark areas. Here are some common places where fleas may nest in a house: Fleas can lay eggs and develop into larvae in the fibers of carpets and rugs. They can hide deep in the fibers where vacuuming might not reach. Fleas can hide in the crevices and cushions of furniture, particularly if it is upholstered or contains fabric. They can lay their eggs in pet bedding, and these eggs can hatch into larvae and pupae, making it a hot spot for infestation. Fleas can hide in small cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and baseboards. Fleas can also enter the house through cracks in the foundation, and if there are any outdoor pets, they can transport fleas into the house.
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