The main problem with fleas is their mobility. A flea can travel tremendous distances by jumping (as much as 100 times its length) and can therefore easily attach itself to a dog or a cat for a “free ride” to the home. When conditions are right (high heat and humiditiy) fleas reproduce rapidly. They can arrive on your pet from almost anywhere – the yard, the neighbor’s dog or even the home itself.
The flea allergy, flea allergy dermatitis, is caused by the saliva of the flea. In some cases, it only takes a few flea bites to cause this reaction. In others, an animal that is allergic to flea saliva could continue to scratch for days as the result of a single flea bite.
Fleas are also the intermediate host to the tapeworm. Once a flea is ingested by a dog or cat, the tapeworm parasite infects the digestive system of the new host. While the tapeworm is not normally a serious health threat to the pet, they can, in extreme cases, cause diarrhea and a shabby looking skin and coat. The problem now is two parasites, one internal and the other external. The tapeworm is relatively easy to control, but the fleas are a different matter. However, by controlling the fleas, you will also control the tapeworm.
When treating fleas on an infested pet, remember that other animals in the household probably are affected as well, even though they may not be scratching. It is best to treat all pets, and the home, in some way or another if one pet has shown signs of fleas.
The flea will live for about one year. They go through the same four stages of development as any other insect – egg, larva, pupa, adult. In cold weather, the eggs lie dormant but with warmer temperatures and higher humidity, they hatch into larva and become adult fleas. This can happen in a very short period of time (as short as three weeks) depending on the conditions. Fleas only live on the animal about 20% of the time, the rest of the time they live in your pet’s environment. It is important to control fleas not only on your pet but also in his sleeping area, home and yard. The female flea will lay her eggs on the body of the animal (usually only about three to eighteen) then they will fall to the ground, carpet or bedding area. One female flea will lay a few hundred eggs in her lifetime. In fact, in 30 days, ten female fleas can multiply to 250,000 fleas.
There are more than 2,400 species of fleas worldwide. Of these, about 20 species will bite humans. Two are threats to dogs or cats.
Fleas can remain dormant for one year, then revive and survive months without feeding.
Fleas, because of the chemistry of their bodies, can jump up to 30,000 times consecutively.
Fleas can cause something as simple as an irritating itch or as complex as the plague that occurred during the Dark Ages.
No one product alone can control the situation. Effective flea control consists of the elimination of fleas in as many of the areas in and around the home and pet as possible. A multiple approach to flea control is recommended. By dividing the process into steps or the home into zones, controlling fleas is an easier task. When purchasing products for flea control on the animal, make sure you get the proper product for dogs or cats. Some dog flea control products can be toxic to cats.
How to ensure the effectiveness of eradicating flea's
Purchase a quality shampoo made specifically for dogs or cats, or take your pet to a dog groomer for a flea bath or dip. If you bathe your pet yourself, make sure you pay particular attention to the feet and between the toes, a favorite hiding place for fleas. If there is a necessity for frequent bathing, use a flea shampoo that contains pyrethrins. This chemical is low in toxicity, and can be used as many as two or three times a week.
- FLEA COLLARS: Put a good quality flea collar on your pet. These will not keep fleas off your pet but they will kill some of the fleas on your pet. Some flea collars last longer than others. Be careful to watch for any allergic reactions to the flea collar around the dog or cat’s neck.
- FLEA POWDERS: In order for any flea powder to work effectively, it must be rubbed in well to the dog or cat’s coat; rub against the grain. Start at the head and neck area and work your way to the tail. It is only effective when it comes in contact with the skin.
- FLEA SPRAYS: Apply thoroughly and then rub in well to the coat.
Use a powder or spray to control fleas in areas where your pet spends a lot of time, such as favorite sleeping areas or cages. Other areas of attention when using a spray could be under baseboards, closets or under sinks and cabinets.
Other locations that should be treated are the outside areas: these could include the dog house, kennel runs or favorite sleeping places.
Read and follow label instructions when using any flea product.