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Warm weather breeds pests

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Posted at 3:48 AM, Feb 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-02 09:13:57-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Just the mention of them can make your skin crawl. Experts are saying that the mild weather we’ve experienced this winter in Central Virginia is allowing insects like fleas and ticks to breed for longer, which can lead to a huge parasite population.

Fleas are naturally attracted to pets like cats and dogs but they’re also easily drawn to areas of your home, including the carpet, draperies, and even your furniture.

In order to treat and protect your pet from fleas you have to also treat the environment.

Dr. Jason Hiser of the Broad Street Veterinary Hospital warns that higher temperatures will not necessarily encourage fleas to hatch but the warmer climate will cause the insects to become more active.

“Fleas, they don’t really hibernate..their eggs wait until the humidity is correct…and our climate is so perfect” Dr. Hiser says, “they never really stay where they are not hatching for a long time. They just pick a day like today and they will be hatching like crazy…tomorrow we will see people in here with fleas.”

There are some warning signs to look for to tell if your pet has fleas:

Itchy, reddened skin near the base of the tailIntense and frantic scratching or biting of their coatTiny pepper-like specks on your animals furYour veterinarian can also help identify other skin conditions which may cause your pet’s discomfort

Dr. Hiser says the best treatment is to prevent the problem before an infestation has the chance to manifest itself,

“It can become very serious for the house and for the pet. We have people who come in here all the time, who literally have an infestation of their house, where there are fleas all over the house and they can’t get rid of it.  And they have to resort to calling an exterminator.”

Dr. Hiser recommends using monthly flea treatments on your pets.