They take over your house, your yard, and worst of all, your pet. As summer comes to a close, making sure fleas are at bay is necessary for a happy pet and healthy home.

“Fleas are really common— more common during the spring/summer months,” says Kristen Green of All Critter Care. “You really need to apply Frontline or a similar flea control product.”

It is fairly easy to detect the pests on your dog or cat. Sometimes, an animal will scratch itself, but often, you won’t even notice unless you see them on your pet. “Check near the base of their tail, their armpits, belly and near their ears: They congregate in these areas,” advises Green. “Professionals use a force dryer, it blows through hair at a strong speed. It can push all the hair out of the way so you can really see the fleas.” To find out if fleas really are the problem, Green suggests, “Owners should take a little bit of water and mix it with the flea feces, which look like dirt on your pet’s skin. If the dirt turns reddish/orange when wet, then it’s fleas.”

The damage fleas can do to the health of your animal is significant. “A big concern is that the pet could have flea dermatitis, which can cause redness of skin and soreness,” says Ellen Parfenov of Serenity Pet Spa. Dogs and cats can get worse over time simply because of the rate of flea reproduction, she notes. “One flea can breed millions of fleas in seven days. If one animal in a household of multiple animals has fleas, they all must be treated.”

Once a dog is infected, there are multiple ways to get rid of fleas, says Jan Mound, styling instructor at Kennelwood Pet Resorts. “We have a three-step process: First, the animal is given a tablet called Capstar, which works within an hour to kill the fleas. Then, a shampoo is applied, and healthy skin and coat treatment are run through our massaging water therapy system to moisturize skin and hair.” The final touch is for prevention, she notes. “Frontline is applied next: Do the treatment at night.”

Of course, treating your dog or cat is just the first step. “While your pet is being treated, treat your home,” Mound suggests, saying that when fleas have been detected, it’s recommended to ‘bomb’ your home. “You can use a fogger or bomb to rid your home of fleas, but watch your square footage. Don’t over-bomb your home. You should definitely call an exterminator to do the cleaning.”

The best thing to do is prevent fleas altogether. As Green says, “If you choose not to take the preventative measures, and your dog gets fleas, you will be kicking yourself.” In the past, pet owners have turned to flea collars as a simple way of preventing the nasty bugs, but Parfenov notes that collars don’t work that well. “Flea collars are not a strong defense. There is a chemical powder on them, which is supposed to prevent the bugs,” she says. A lot of people come in with collars that are no longer working, but they are under the assumption they are.”

Green suggests using an oral or topical treatment. “There is an oral allin- one medication you can use. The topical treatment often takes 24 to 36 hours to get into body,” Green says.

“Apply preventative treatment monthly. And if your animal does contract fleas, begin a system to get rid of them right away.”

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