Fleas by Dr. Ashley Woo

Unfortunately most of us pet owners have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with fleas. Despite effective treatment against fleas, they still present a threat to our pets. These pesky little insects can carry disease and cause serious harm to our pets. This is why it is important to be well informed regarding fleas, their life cycle, and the best way to get rid of them!

Flea Facts:

  • There are thousands of species of fleas but the cat flea is the most common one found on our pets
  • Fleas can be responsible for causing the following disease processes:
    • Allergic reaction to bites
    • Anemia
    • Transmission of blood borne parasites in cats
    • Transmission of tapeworms
  • Fleas don’t live on your pet, but in the surrounding environment
    • Fleas can be found INDOORS and outdoors, they actually thrive in well regulated homes!
    • Fleas are susceptible to cold and cannot survive under 3 °C
  • Fleas will bite humans but prefer animal blood
    • So just because you are not being bit by fleas, does not mean they aren’t there!
  • Flea Life Cycle
    • One adult flea can lay approximately 50 eggs/day
    • The eggs are deposited onto your pet’s coat and drop off in the environment. They hatch into larvae which develop into their pupae form. Once mature they emerge from their cocoon as adult fleas.
    • The eggs and larvae feed off of organic material in the environment and adult flea feces
    • Adults fleas take blood meals from mammals
    • This life cycle can last from 2 weeks upwards of a year depending on the environment.

How did my pet get fleas?

  • Fleas are ubiquitous in the environment. They can be found anywhere a mammal with fleas would be.
  • Fleas will jump onto your pet, feed, and can be brought into your home.
    • Fleas will live everywhere in the home, hardwood, carpets, you name it!

How do I get rid of fleas?

It is important to remember that fleas don’t live on your pet, therefore it is important to treat the environment and your pet!

  • Avoid over the counter flea products.
    • The majority of these products will only deal with fleas that are on the pet at that time, but have no residual effect.
    • Some over the counter products also contain Permethrins which are toxic to cats!
    • * Always read labels before using products on your pets!
  • There are multiple products available from your veterinarian that not only kill adult fleas that feed on your pet, but also help to kill fleas in the environment
    • The flea treatment is contained within the skin cells, thus when your pet’s dander is spread throughout your house, flea eggs and larvae will feed on this and die.
  • It is important to also clean the environment very well to decrease the flea population!
    • Be sure to vacuum floors and carpets and anywhere your pet frequents! There are insecticide products that can be used in the home to kill eggs and larvae
  • Treat ALL pets in the house hold.
    • Even if your dog has the fleas and your cat is always indoors, once a flea is seen assume they are in your house! They will feed on all your pets!

How long does flea treatment usually take to work?

  • The majority of flea products last 1 month; it is recommended to repeat this treatment 3 times.
    • Remember the flea life cycle can take a few weeks, plus the pupae stage is resistant against drugs.
    • This means only 1 month of treatment may miss certain stages of the flea life cycle.

How do I prevent fleas?

  • If your home is free of fleas, you’ll want to keep it that way!
    • Any pet that goes outdoors should be on monthly flea medication during the spring to fall months.

If you’re concerned about fleas or have any questions about fleas, our team at Coxwell Animal Clinic will be happy to help!