Fleas, Internal Parasites and Deworming, Shelter and Rescue Resources

Flea Problem: Complications of Flea Infestations

What are the dangers of a flea infestation? Fleas make many people think of skin irritation from itchy bites, but these pests can cause other complications as well. Flea prevention is essential for avoiding larger problems down the road; however, if your animals develop secondary issues from flea infestations, knowing a little bit about the problem will help you choose a solution.

Tapeworms and Fleas

Dogs and cats can contract tapeworms from fleas by eating their eggs. You can tell that your pet has tapeworms if you notice small, rice-like white grains in their feces. These are segments of the worms. Flea tapeworm treatment involves administering a dewormer, which will kill and dissolve the worms. Tapeworms are as different from other intestinal parasites as dogs are from cats. When targeting flea tapeworm, use a product with praziquantel, either by itself or in combination product. For dogs we recommend products such as Worm X Plus and for cats, we suggest using Drontal for Cats or Profender for Cats.

Avoiding the initial bite or infestation is the best way to protect your pet from developing complications. Be sure to employ preventative measures including oral flea and tick preventives such as Bravecto, topical treatments, collars, and sprays or foggers, and always check your animals for ticks and fleas after adventuring outdoors. Be sure to read the labels for safe use in breeding dogs, cats and very young pets.

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Flea Anemia in Cats and Dogs

Fleas subsist on the blood of their hosts, and therefore, a severe flea infestation can lead to anemia in affected animals. This is most common in very young puppies and kittens or in sick or elderly animals, as their bodies can’t make new red blood cells as rapidly. Animals with severe anemia may require blood transfusions and hospitalization. A comprehensive premise treatment is the only way to prevent reinfestation.

Fleas in House

Finding out your home is pest-ridden may be devastating, but with diligence and planning, you can get rid of the fleas and prevent them from returning. Attend to your pets first, as they risk contracting tapeworms or anemia from fleas, as discussed above. Bathing your pet in a flea shampoo or dip is the first step to getting rid of the initial infestation. Do not use products labeled for dogs on cats or vice versa. Applying a topical flea and tick medication such as Fiproguard Plus for dogs or cats or Advantage II for dogs will help protect your pet, as will oral flea medicines including Capstar. Flea collars for dogs and cats provide an additional precaution.

The next step is vital to prevent more problems with fleas: removing them from your home. Understanding that fleas fall or jump off your pet anytime they want, and therefore could be anywhere, will help you clean thoroughly. Carpet powders, foggers, and sprays can help purge hard-to-reach areas such as thick rugs or cracks in hardwood floors. Products containing Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) prevent flea pupae from maturing and eventually kill them, providing an effective solution for undeveloped fleas.

Fleas Outside

Attending to outdoor areas in a similar fashion also helps fight fleas. Anywhere your animals hang out – whether under the porch, in the grass, or even in their kennels – needs to be sprayed or fogged with an appropriate pest control solution.

If you have flea problems and need additional help with flea infestations, call a Revival Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.