Is your pet scratching and chewing at themselves? Are they losing their hair? Do your ankles itch? You may be dealing with fleas on your pet and in your home. Fleas are the most common parasite in pets, and the Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital team encourages you to learn more about this pest before a flea infestation takes over.
The flea life cycle on your pet and in your home
A single female flea can produce up to 2,000 eggs in her brief lifetime. Live fleas on your furry friend represent only 5% of a flea infestation—the rest of the flea family likely lives in different life cycles throughout your home. Fleas go through four stages, and can complete their life cycle in as little as three weeks. Adult fleas lay eggs that can fall off your pet into your home, and the eggs hatch into larvae that spin cocoons to become pupae. Pupae can resist treatment, and stay in that impenetrable stage for months, until movement or warmth stimulates them to become adults, when they immediately look for the nearest feeding source.
Fleas on your pet pose health risks
Because a flea’s diet consists of blood, a severe infestation, especially on a small or young pet, can lead to blood-loss anemia. Flea bites can cause serious skin problems, and your pet may suffer hair loss, especially if they are allergic to flea saliva. Fleas also carry a disease called Bartonella, which is usually asymptomatic in cats, but infected flea feces on their claws can cause “cat scratch fever” in humans. In addition, fleas carry tapeworms in their larval stage, which are ingested when your pet swallows a flea. Although tapeworms seldom affect pets, they can excrete disgusting egg packets around your home.
All pets are vulnerable to fleas
Do you think your pet is immune from fleas? Here are answers to some commonly posed questions to the Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital team:
- How can fleas be a problem for my indoor pet? — Fleas are opportunists, and can enter your home on rodents, or crawl through cracks or screens.
- If my pet has a flea problem, why am I not bitten? — The flea that commonly affects pets prefers their blood, and will bite humans only in a severe infestation.
- Do I have to worry about fleas if I have hardwood floors? — Fleas can thrive in the cracks and crevices of hardwood floors.
- Why can’t I see fleas on my pet? — Most pets will bite and swallow any fleas they can reach, and only a small number of fleas can cause a big problem.
- Why does my pet have fleas while on their long-time flea preventive? — Fleas can develop resistance to flea preventives, although newer products are significantly more effective. Also, flea preventives do not deter fleas from jumping on your pet, and if fleas persist in your pet’s environment, such as in your home or yard, you may see them despite using flea prevention.
Eradicate fleas on your pet and in your home
The first step is to address the fleas on your pet by starting them on an effective flea preventive, which will kill adult fleas and stop their reproduction. Bathing your pet with pet shampoo and warm water is also recommended. Then, since live fleas on your pet are the tip of the iceberg, the next step is to decontaminate your home. Regular vacuuming can reduce the population of different flea life cycles on your floor and furniture, paying special attention to your pet’s preferred places. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag outside every time you vacuum. To help prevent further life-cycle development, try using baking soda on your carpet and upholstery the day before vacuuming. Wash your pet’s bedding, and yours too, if they sleep with you. For a serious infestation, you may need to hire a professional exterminator.
Flea preventives are essential for your pet
Prevention of a flea infestation is not only much easier than treatment, but also healthier for your pet. A wide variety of flea preventives is available, and the Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital team can guide you on the safest, most effective choice for your pet. You should always follow label instructions, use as directed, and never give your cat a flea preventive designed for dogs. Flea preventives undergo rigorous testing, but if you have concerns about a possible adverse reaction, don’t hesitate to contact our hospital immediately.
Fleas are an uncomfortable nuisance, and a health risk. Keep fleas out of your home and off your pet by contacting the Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital team for a consultation, and for recommendations on the best flea prevention protocol for your pet.