One of the worst Florida flea seasons in years, veterinarians say

Hot, humid weather making flea population explode

TAMPA, Fla. - Veterinarians says this is one of the worst flea seasons they say they've seen in years.

The weather has been especially warm and humid, making the flea population explode, said Dr. Nicole Cornett, shelter veterinarian with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

Joe Whitmore remembers when his two dogs, Ronan and Luna, got fleas as puppies.

"It's pretty gross," he said. "They are going to track them into the house. You could get them in your carpets. You might get them in your beds and stuff."

Plus, he says, it makes pets miserable.

"With them, there's nothing they can do about it but rely on you so you need to take care of it as quick as you can," Whitmore said.

Cornett said many pet owners are coming in with their dogs having pretty severe skin rashes and sores, unaware that their dog has fleas.

"One flea bite can drive a dog crazy for three months," she said.

She said fleas will often take up residence in your home.

"They hide in bedding, upholstery, in carpet, rugs," Cornett said. "Things like that are where they like to be. They like warm bedding."

Fleas are often visible as little black dots on your pet and on bedding and furniture. They don't live on hard surfaces.

So what should pet owners do if they discover their pet has fleas? First, treat your pet with something like a flea bath to initially remove them.

Then, treat your pet to stop the cycle of spreading fleas with medication.

"People spend a lot of money in over the counter products that don't work," Cornett said. "And it is a little more expensive to come to your veterinarian, but we have oral meds that actually kill the fleas within 30 minutes. 

Fleas can lay thousands of eggs and live about three months. So chances are, they can hatch and you'll need to be prepared to treat everything again. That's why the medication helps stop the spread of fleas, because it stops them from laying eggs, Cornett said.

If your pet is itching because of fleas, they can take Benadryl to temporarily stop itching, she said. Make sure to check with your vet about dosage per your pet's weight, she said.

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