dog scratchingFleas are nasty little creatures. They are parasites, whose mouthparts are made for piercing skin and sucking blood. They are mobile in any direction: they can jump up to 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally. That’s comparable to a human jumping 250 feet vertically and 450 feet horizontally. After emerging from the cocoon and being initially fed, an adult flea can survive from 2 months to 1 year between feedings. For a period of 2 weeks up to 8 months, a female flea can lay 15 to 20 eggs per day. That’s potentially 280 to 4,800 fleas in a relatively short time.
Fleas want one thing – to find a warm blooded host. And your pet, your home, and you provide a flea with lots of great options…
1. Birds. Bird fleas are usually found in nests or nesting boxes, but they can also migrate to the nearest cat or dog or human.
2. Cats. Cat fleas are the the most common variety of fleas – but they don’t limit themselves to cats. These fleas can be found on dogs and humans too. One way to confirm fleas are on your cat is to look for “flea dirt.” Initially, you’ll see what looks like pepper. If you can drop water on the “dots,” smear with a white paper towel and see red, your cat has fleas.
3. Dogs. If your dog excessively scratches or bites at his rear, tail or thigh area, he may have fleas. This means that probably your dog isn’t the only place with fleas. The grass in your back yard or anywhere your pet likes to sleep is a likely flea park. Fleas enjoy a warm, moist environment. Frequent vacuuming in your house and frequent mowing of your yard are good preventive steps.
4. Humans – Fleas can easily find their way into carpets and upholstered items, looking for a warm blooded mammal to occupy. Lower parts of the body (ankles, for instance) are more commonly targeted. Affected skin reveals small raised reddened areas that itch. Flea bites look similar to mosquito bites with a pierced point in the center of a small welt. Some individuals suffer from allergies to the fleas’ saliva and exhibit a rash.
5. Rats and mice – Fleas are more than just an itchy nuisance. They can transmit viruses and diseases like bubonic plague. Even a tapeworm can be passed on when a mammal consumes an infected flea.
At Town ‘N’ Country Animal Hospital, we want to make sure that your pet stays flea-free all year long. If you’ve let your flea treatment lapse over the winter, please drop by today and let us get your pet back on track. We look forward to seeing you!