With the warm weather, comes one of the most common and irritating parasites for your pets. Fleas love humid conditions and survive by taking blood meals from your pet.
What is the life cycle of the flea?
Adult - this is the most annoying stage for your pet. Adult fleas can live from 6 months to one year. The length of their life span depends on the conditions in their environment (temperature, humidity and food source). A female flea can produce up to 50 eggs in one day, which leads to several hundred over her life span. Adult fleas can even live dormant without a food source for up to 1-2 months.
Eggs - Once the eggs have been laid, they drop off in your pet's environment, waiting for the perfect moment to hatch.
Larvae - they hatch from their eggs in 1-2 weeks. They don't actually live on your pet, but deep in cracks in the floor, damp areas, and other places your pet may go.
Pupae - When conditions are right, adult fleas hatch from pupal cocoons. This can happen in a week or take as long as a year. Vibrations from footsteps can cause them to hatch, where they immediately look for a host (your pet) to feed on.
How do I prevent them from biting my pet?
Flea preventions should be started early in the spring and continue until December or once there have been a couple of good heavy frosts. There are many different options ranging from pill form, topical and also injectable. Except for the injection for cats which last for 6 months, most are administered monthly. They all work in a slightly different way and one may be better for your pet over another, so feel free to ask us about your many options. Contrary to popular belief indoor animals are also susceptible to fleas, so make sure you also have them covered.
What if my pet gets infested with fleas?
If your pet gets infested with fleas, you need to treat ALL PETS in your house for at least 4 months in
row. By the time fleas are detected, they have probably been around for a while undetected and are at various life stages in your house (see above). Except in the case of severe infestation, you should not have to treat your house with sprays. The flea must jump on your pet to feed and then reproduce and when they do, if your pet is adequately treated, the flea should die. Rigorous vacuuming of all surfaces-focusing on those especially not exposed to sunlight- discarding of your vacuum bag or washing your canister out after vacuuming is essential to help control. All pets being treated for fleas, should also be treated for tapeworm. The bottom line is, it is much easier, and often cheaper, to institute preventive measures, then to treat once infested.
Why is it so important to prevent fleas?
Other than being a major annoyance for your pet, fleas can cause intense allergic reactions and subsequent skin infection which means a visit to your vet and medications to treat the problem. They can also transmit tapeworms to your pet. In young or sick animals, they could also cause anemia (low red blood cells) from feeding on your pet's blood.