Vet Blog

The Importance of Flea Prevention

June 06, 2018

Fleas are the most common external parasite found on both dogs and cats.

They are small wingless insects that feed on blood and can jump up to two feet high.

Flea Life Cycle

  • The female flea lays eggs on the host which then roll off into the environment (i.e. bedding, carpet, etc.)
  • Flea eggs typically hatch in two to twelve days resulting in flea larvae.
  • The length of time it takes for the larvae to enter the pupal stage depends on the time of year. In the summer this can be anywhere from four to twenty-four days while it can take up to 200 days in other times of the year.
  • It typically takes 5-14 days for the pupae to develop into adults which then wait for a passing host to jump on.
  • Adult fleas can live anywhere from 13 days to 12 months depending on the environment and their ability to find a host. In this time the adult female can produce millions of offspring.

Signs that Your Pet Has Fleas

  • Fleas are most commonly found on the abdomen, at the base of the tail, or on the head.
  • Flea dirt may also be seen when your pet's hair is parted. Flea dirt looks like dark brown or black grains of sand.
  • You may also notice your pet excessively licking, scratching, or chewing, especially around the base of the tail.

How Do Our Pets Get Fleas

  • The most common way is picking them up outside or the fleas being brought in from outdoors.
  • Once your pet has fleas, the eggs that are laid will roll off into the environment so that they can get fleas from their bedding, upholstery, carpet, etc.
  • Fleas do best in warm, humid environments with temperatures ranging from 65 to 80*

Problems Associated with Fleas

  • Fleas can consume up to 15 times their own body weight in blood so in severe infestations they can cause anemia. This is more commonly seen in small or young animals.
  • Some animals can also be allergic to the saliva of fleas which can cause them to scratch excessively and lead to skin infections and hair loss.

Flea Treatment and Prevention

  • Once fleas are found on your pet it is important to clean your house thoroughly including bedding, rugs, upholstery, and carpet.
  • Lawn treatments may also be needed to prevent your pet from becoming re-infected.
  • Fleas like to hide in dark, moist, shady areas so it is important to keep the area around your house free of debris.

There are many flea control products available including oral and topical medications as well as collars. If you need help deciding what preventative will be the most effective for your pet we are always here to help.