Fleas are the most common small animal parasite seen and every animal is likely to be infected at some stage in his or her life. However, with the advent of modern products it is possible to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your household. Your vet nurse will be able to give you advice on how to use these products effectively.
Fleas are small, reddish brown insects with a complex life cycle, most of which takes place away from your pet. Only the adult fleas live on your pet and feeds on his or her blood, the early stages live free in the environment, i.e. your home. For every flea that you see running through your pet’s fur, there may be hundreds of immature fleas waiting to jump on board a passing pet – or if you are unlucky – on to you!
• Adult fleas lay their eggs in your pet’s fur. Each female flea can produce dozens of eggs every day. They are pearly white in colour and about the size of a grain of salt. The eggs do not stick to the fur and soon fall off on to the floor.
• After a few days, the eggs hatch into maggot-like larvae that hide in your carpets, in cracks in the floor, or in your cat’s bedding. They feed on dust and the droppings of adult fleas, which mostly consists of undigested blood.
• The larva spins a cocoon, in which it develops into an adult flea. They may stay in this resting stage for several months.
• The adult flea breaks out of its cocoon and crawls out of its hiding place to look for food. If it cannot find a cat or dog it will hop on to any warm-blooded animal that passes by, including humans. The time it takes for a flea to grow from egg to adult depends on the temperature and humidity of the environment. The minimum time for the cycle is 2 and half to 3 weeks but immature fleas can persist for over a year before reaching maturity.
Fleas are one of the most common causes of skin disease in cats and dogs. The problems result from an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which contains chemicals to stop blood from clotting until after the flea has finished feeding. Pet’s will lick or rub the affected parts, the fur may be worn away and the skin becomes red and sore. Younger animals can lose so much blood that they can become anaemic. Fleas also carry tapeworm eggs, which then may develop inside your pets’ intestine after they are swallowed while your pet grooms itself.
The secret of successful flea control is to treat the animal (and if necessary the environment) with effective products. We highly recommend ADVANTAGE and REVOLUTION. Top spot applications as an effective forms of flea control for application to your pet. These modern-day flea products are totally safe and easy to apply to your pet and provide superior flea control. Don’t let ONE FLEA escalate into an INFESTATION. See your veterinary nurse now for advice.
© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd