Animal Resource Library » Pet Health » Freedom from Fleas

Freedom from Fleas

The key word in controlling fleas is prevention. Fortunately, there are a lot of good products out there to help prevent, kill and control fleas, and knowledge is power so read on!

FLEA FACTS:

  • Fleas, in the perfect environment, can live up to two years.
  • Fleas can go through an entire life cycle (from egg to adult) in as little as 10 days.
  • Fleas can cause life-threatening anemia.
  • Fleas can cause infection and “hot spots” in dogs and cats.
  • Fleas can cause tapeworms in dogs and cats through the ingestion of fleas.
  • There are more than 2,400 species of fleas.
  • The most common flea on dogs and cats is called the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). Although it is called the “cat” flea, many species are susceptible to it.
  • In North America, a wide variety of non-domesticated hosts have been reported harboring “cat” fleas, including: coyotes, red and gray foxes, bobcats, skunks, rodents, raccoons, opossums and ferrets.
  • Cat fleas have been found infesting over 50 different hosts throughout the world.
  • Cold temperatures do kill cat fleas. For the cat flea, no life cycle stage (egg, larva, pupa or adult) can survive past 10 days if there is a consistent temperature of 37.4°F. They only survive 5 days at 33.8°F.
  • Once on the host, the cat flea will initiate feeding within seconds and mating will occur on the host in the first eight to 24 hours, with most females having mated by 34 hours.
  • Female cat fleas begin egg production within 36 to 48 hours of taking their first blood meal, reach maximum production between 4 and 9 days, and are capable of producing eggs for over 100 days.
  • Female fleas produce an average of 1,348 eggs during their first 50 days on the host, equivalent to producing their body weight in eggs daily.
  • The life cycle of a flea involves egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
  • Cat fleas lay their eggs while on the host, not in cracks and crevices. Flea eggs are not sticky and readily fall from the host and into their environment.
  • Once flea eggs are in the environment they will usually hatch in 1 to 10 days, depending on temperature and humidity.
  • Cat fleas spend their entire lives on your pet. They feed, sleep and lay thousands of eggs on your pet.
  • Cats are very sensitive to flea products and owners should be careful using over the counter sprays or dips on these animals.
  • The key to controlling fleas is to interrupt their live cycle at an immature stage, so they do not develop into adults.
  • Unlike the mosquito, which eats once and goes off to digest its meal, fleas continue to repeatedly bite their hosts long after their hunger is satisfied.
  • Dogs and cats that have “flea allergies” are allergic to a protein that is found in flea saliva of certain fleas. When the flea bites the pet it places this protein in the skin of the pet. Even though the fleas may not be present, the protein in the saliva may be present in the skin causing the pets to itch and scratch.

Pretty disgusting, huh? Now that you know a little more about fleas you need to know how to prevent, kill and control them. The course of action you take depends on how many pets you have, where you live, and your pets’ lifestyle. The best thing to do is to go to your vet and have them design a program that is tailored for your pets.

FLEA TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

Remember that there are three areas that you need to think about when trying to control fleas: the pet, the yard and the house. In order to be effective you need to treat all three areas. Good luck, and may you be flea-free!