How to Detect a Flea Infestation in a New Home What You Can Do to Find Them

BY | September 19 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
How to Detect a Flea Infestation in a New Home

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Although you're anxious to start putting things away and settling into your new home, it's important to ensure that there aren't any unwanted house guests already there.

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, theyโ€™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 theyโ€™d inhabit. Youโ€™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, youโ€™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 may 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, youโ€™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 youโ€™ll have plenty of evidence of their presence floating in the bowl.

Donโ€™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, theyโ€™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 doesnโ€™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:

Plague

Yes, this is the same plague that caused the death of over a third of the European population back in the Middle Ages. While itโ€™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 catโ€™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.

Tapeworms

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 petโ€™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 dogโ€™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.

Haemobartonellosis

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.

Whatโ€™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!

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