What Are Fleas?
Fleas are blood sucking external parasites that can carry and transmit diseases that threaten the health of your pet. They are common throughout the world, more so in areas with a warmer climate. Large numbers of fleas can suck enough blood to cause anemia and other serious problems in your pet. Fleas are commonly found along back and tail.
A flea’s life cycle can be broken down into four phases: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. While it may seem the opposite, adult fleas are only 1% of the entire problem; 99% of the problem is in your pet’s environment. Adult fleas deposit eggs in the fur of your animal, which then drop off into the environment and hatch into larvae. They can live freely as larvae for up to 3 weeks. After this, the larvae form protective cocoons called pupae. Pupae are resistant to drying, freezing, and insecticides, and can contain adult fleas for up to 300 days until optimal hatching conditions are found. After hatched, the adult fleas climb onto furniture or other objects until a host passes by, which it then attaches to. If left untreated, this life cycle can continue indefinitely or until your pet develops a serious medical condition.
Each female flea can produce up to 3000 eggs in their lifetime! It’s obvious that you don’t want these pesky creatures affecting your everyday lives. See below to better understand the signs your pet might have fleas, and the next steps you should take to get rid of them.
Signs Your Pet Might Have Fleas:
- Abnormal scratching, licking, and/or biting
- Unusual red patches of skin
- Hair loss
- Pale gums
- Flea “dirt” (feces) resembling pepper sprinkled over your pet’s coat
Flea dirt is categorized as small, black or reddish-brown specks on your pet’s body or in areas around your home. This is actually flea excrement composed of digested blood. You can test to see if this is flea dirt and not regular dirt one of two ways:
- One way is to wet any of the black specks that fall off your pet after putting them on a paper towel. If the specks turn a dark red or brown color, this is flea dirt.
- Another method involves wearing white socks and walking around your home in areas your pet frequents in order to pick up loose fleas or flea dirt.
What Should I Do If My Pet Has Fleas?
A flea bath or dip at your local veterinary clinic can provide immediate results for your pet. Oral medication can kill fleas within 30 minutes to 5 hours. You can also purchase a topical product that must be applied to your animal monthly. While these kill the adult fleas on your pet, this is not a long-term solution. Unless your pet’s home environment is also treated, you, your family, and your pet are all at risk of infestation. The following steps should be taken to ensure your home environment is free of fleas:
- Wash pet bedding in hot water or discard them entirely
- All carpets and rugs should be vacuumed
- Bag, seal, and discard all of the vacuumed material
- Seek a professional exterminator to rid your yard of any fleas
- You may need to approach flea extermination in multiple ways to ensure your pet and family are safe from fleas
Visit Your Local Veterinary Clinic
If you believe your pet may be infected with fleas, Houston Humane Society is here to help. Visit our veterinary clinic in Houston, TX to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians or give us a call today
to learn more!