DEAR PAW’S CORNER: Every summer, my cats get fleas. It’s agony for them and for me, because I have flea bites on my ankles all through the warm season when I want to wear sandals. The problem goes away in late fall through winter, but comes back with warm weather. How can I stop the constant re-infestation? – Trudy in Evanston, Ill.
DEAR TRUDY: Fleas actually are a year-round problem, even in colder climates. They may not be as active in the winter, but even if dormant or dead, their eggs usually are still in the infested areas, waiting for the right conditions to hatch.
During the winter, it’s important to keep dusting and vacuuming the entire house at least once a week, with particular attention paid to the areas your cats inhabit the most. Treat the house with a flea-stopping preventative – a number of products are available at the pet store, such as sprinkle-on treatments for the carpet, furniture and drapes. Or, research alternative repellents made with natural or household items such as lemon-juice sprays or essential oils.
Comb the cats’ fur daily if possible, and go through it with a flea comb once a week. As spring rolls around, start regular treatment with a flea preventative. Once-a-month topical treatments can be very effective in reducing or eliminating fleas, but many pet owners are against using them. Talk to the veterinarian about the most effective options.
It’s also important to keep your cats indoors. There are a number of safety reasons to do this anyway, and it prevents fleas from dropping onto their fur as they brush through grass or greenery.
Start now with a flea-prevention program, before you even feel an itch, and this summer can be much more comfortable.
Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit www.pawscorner.com. © 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.