Fleas extra pesky after drought

Vet: Even indoor cats need protection

INDIANAPOLIS - It's normal around this time of year for pets and their owners to battle fleas, but this year has been anything but typical.

"We've seen quite a few fleas this year, for whatever reason. Maybe the drought played into it," Dr. Lori Fruit said.

Fruit said conditions are usually right for fleas in Indiana from March to December.

But this year, their cocoons remained dormant during the hot, dry summer, and with rain and cooler temperatures in recent weeks, the fleas have emerged.

Unless pets are protected, they'll start scratching and biting.

"(Fleas) don't die until it really freezes," Fruit said. "So we recommend doing once-a-month prevention year round because it is almost a whole year that they can live here. And especially this year, don't forget to keep giving it."

Advances in veterinary medicine offer pet owners over-the-counter and prescription products -- either a topical solution or pills controls fleas for up to a month.

The key to controlling fleas is persistence.

Since fleas prefer your pet, you may not have to spray your home, but vacuuming frequently and cleaning bedding, mats and bedspreads often is recommended.

Fruit said most importantly, stay proactive.

"It's so much easier to prevent them than to get them under control after we've gotten them," Fruit said.

Fruit recommends the preventive therapy for indoor cats, too. She has treated indoor cats for fleas because their owners unwittingly tracked eggs into their homes on their shoes.

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