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    Fleas…the pests persist

    Outdoor pests are typically less of a problem during the cold winter months than in the Spring. But fleas are still causing dogs and cats to itch, and making pet owners scratch their heads.

    Outdoor pests are typically less of a problem during the cold winter months than in the Spring. But fleas are still causing dogs and cats to itch, and making pet owners scratch their heads.

    (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36128932@N03/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

    According to anecdotal reports from veterinarians, 2009 was a boon for fleas.

    Peter Falk is a veterinarian at Ocean County Veterinary Hospital in Lakewood New Jersey.

    Falk: It was warmer and wetter than normal, and so that was a good environment for fleas to multiply and stay alive. Our first frosts of the year were also weeks to a month later than normal, so where we would normally have some flea kill outside that was also delayed.

    Falk says he’s received about 20 percent more complaints from pet owners about fleas in 2009 than in previous years.

    Greg Griffeth is a veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania’s animal hospital. He says he’s also seen an uptick in the number of flea cases.

    Griffeth: This year was a particularly good year for fleas. We had a long cool, spring and what fleas like is weather that’s of moderate temperature and high humidity.

    Other veterinary offices say they haven’t seen a similar increase.

    Griffeth says it’s usually easy to rid animals of fleas, but pet owners need to be vigilant and thorough to prevent them from lingering in the home and re-infesting pets. The Pennsylvania SPCA has found pet owners often don’t properly apply flea treatments, causing the fleas to stick around longer.

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