What is a Flea?
Last month, we posted a blog about ticks. (To read about ticks click Here)Fleas are quite similar to ticks – they are both small, ectoparasites that cannot fly and live on the surface of animals by ingesting their host’s blood. However unlike ticks, fleas have 6 legs and can use their hind legs to jump to great lengths and heights. A flea goes through 4 life cycle stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult fleas can be identified by their reddish to dark brown colour and flattened bodies from side-to-side being only 1-4 mm in length. The female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day after feeding and mating.
Why Should I be Worried?
Pets will scratch and itch at their skin due to the flea’s saliva injected at the bite site. This can lead to skin problems such as sores, scaly skin, and even skin allergies. They can even cause anemia in your puppy or kitten from the loss of blood if your young pet is severely infested. Furthermore, fleas can transmit a species of tapeworms to cats and dogs. This occurs if your pet ingests the flea – which can happen quite easily. Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite that will attach to the intestines of your cat or dog. Most importantly, fleas can spread easily and quickly since they lay so many eggs at one time. These eggs will fall off your pet and onto your surrounding furniture. The larvae from the eggs will feed on flea feces (dried blood) and become pupae where they will wait for an opportune moment to attach to their next host. Your home could rapidly become infested with fleas which will affect you and your family. You can learn more about fleas by watching this video!
What Can I Do?
This year, the flea season will be extremely bad due to the warm winter and wet weather. The best way to keep fleas out of your pet’s life is by purchasing and applying prevention. Here at River Grove Animal Hospital, we offer prevention that will protect your pet from both ticks and fleas. Tick and flea prevention is available for both cats and dogs. While it might seem important to protect your pets during the warm months, it is possible for fleas to hang around all year round (inside the house) so we do recommend tick and flea prevention for your pets throughout the year.