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Fleas: More Than Just Irritating Pests

By June 2, 2021 No Comments

Have you ever encountered fleas? If you haven’t, count yourself lucky. A flea infestation is something you definitely don’t want in your home or on your pet. Fleas can remain active year-round in and around London and River Bend.

Keep reading to learn more about fleas and how to help keep them out of your life and off your pet.

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are tiny, reddish-brown, wingless parasites that feed on mammals and birds. Dogs and cats tend to be infested by cat fleas specifically. Despite the name, this type of flea likes both cats and dogs and will bite people as well, especially when there are a lot of fleas.

These tiny blood-sucking creatures are the most common external parasite of dogs and cats.*  Once fleas find a host like your pet and start feeding, they’ll stay on your pet and lay eggs. Each female flea can produce as many as 50 eggs in a day.

The eggs fall off the pet into the environment. Usually within a few days, the eggs hatch into worm-like larvae, which then feed and form cocoons. The immature fleas (pupae) lie in wait inside these protective cocoons until they sense a host (like your pet), and then they emerge as adults to feed.

Fleas tend to be more common in the warmer, wetter months, but they can survive throughout the year in the right conditions, with your home being a perfect place for them to thrive. Once they’re inside, fleas can multiply quickly and be frustrating and difficult to get rid of. Preventing flea infestations is far better than having to treat them!

There is no “flea season.” Fleas can infest your pet and your home at any time of year.

How Fleas Bother Pets and People

Fleas can make dogs and cats miserable:

  • When fleas bite, they can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in dogs and cats, an allergic reaction to certain components in flea saliva.
  • Not only can fleas cause intense itching and skin inflammation, but when infested pets scratch, they can damage their skin and cause skin infections.
  • Fleas can lead to life-threatening blood loss (anemia) in puppies and kittens.
  • Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to both pets and people.

Fallacies About Fleas

Fleas don’t discriminate when it comes to where they take up residence. It’s a common myth that fleas infest dirty, messy homes. Keeping your house clean and tidy won’t keep out fleas.

And fleas don’t just hide in carpeting. The growing stages of fleas (eggs, larvae, and pupae) hide in bedding, in clothing, under furniture, and along baseboards.

If you’ve heard the myth about garlic keeping fleas away, don’t believe it. Feeding pets garlic can hurt them, and there’s no scientific proof that garlic repels fleas.

Signs of Fleas in Pets

Itching is often the main symptom of fleas, causing pets to:

  • Scratch
  • Rub against furniture
  • Shake their head
  • Frequently lick, chew, bite, or groom themselves, sometimes to the point where they cause hair loss or hot spots (painful, raw, inflamed areas on the skin that may bleed)

Finding Fleas

Despite their small size, you can actually see fleas without a microscope. Adult fleas resemble reddish-brown sesame seeds. On pets with infestations, you may be able to spot the parasites scurrying around. Don’t expect to see them jump on and off, though. Once they’ve made a home on a pet, fleas tend to stay there.

Unfortunately, just because you don’t see fleas doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Some pets are so allergic to fleas that just one or two can cause a reaction and intense itching. If your pet is scratching or you think your pet might have fleas, call us so we can check for these parasites and other possible causes of itch—and help get your pet relief.

Preventing Fleas Is Key

Fleas are a year-round problem in and around London, North London, River Bend, and throughout Ontario. Don’t wait until you see these parasites on your pet to take action! We can help prevent fleas and the problems they cause by keeping dogs and cats on flea control products.

Call us to make sure your pet’s protected or to refill your pet’s parasite prevention prescription.

Reference

*Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). CAPC parasite guidelines: fleas. capcvet.org/guidelines/fleas. Accessed April 30, 2021.

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