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California Drought May Be Causing Increase In Fleas

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Fleas can live year-round in California, but pet owners in our area say they're seeing infestations like never before.

Deborah Lamoreux's two dogs have been flea-free this year, but she's been through it before.

"If it gets in your house it's a nightmare. 'cause you have to take absolutely everything and go to the laundromat. All bedding, anything they've touched," she said.

She hasn't treated her dogs yet this year, but she might after hearing veterinarians in the Sacramento area are seeing a surge in pets coming in coated in fleas.

"Their dog scratching, having fleas and complaining that the products they're using have not been working. And this is about the only year I've heard that in my six years here," said UC Davis vet Dr. Julie Meadows.

She doesn't think it's the flea products that are ineffective this year, but rather there area simply a lot more fleas around.

UC Davis entomology professor Lynn Kimsey thinks the drought is to blame.

"During the winter, normally, the ones that are on wild animals get kind of hammered by the cold, wet weather," she said.

The lack of rain and warm temperatures have allowed the fleas to not just survive, but thrive this winter. On top of that, Kimsey says she's never seen populations of urban wildlife so high—raccoons, opossums and rats that all carry fleas.

"They're outdoors, they're around your house, dropping fleas. and so, I can very well see why the populations would be high this year," she said.

Meadows says old-school products like foggers that kill larvae and eggs in your house are a waste of money. She says topical, oral and flea collar products are more effective.

"So as a dog or cat walks through an infested house, or an infested yard, the fleas jump on and either die, or we use products that prevent them from reproducing," she said.

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