According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), fleas are the most common external parasite in both dogs and cats.
Adult fleas are small, flat, wingless, and have three pairs of jointed legs. They have siphon-like mouthparts and feed on the blood of their hosts by piercing and sucking. Fleas are just about everywhere ” everywhere there are animals – including birds and many mammals.
Dogs and cats are prime hosts, but three of the four stages of the flea’s life cycle are spent away from the host. The life-cycle stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult. Under optimal conditions, the life cycle averages about 28 days. When conditions are not favorable, the life cycle can last longer. Because fleas prosper in warm, humid environments, temperature and humidity changes can affect the length and success of their life cycles. The adult flea spends all of its time on a host, and this is the life-cycle stage pet owners usually encounter.
It is not true that adult fleas hop from the host animal back to the environment and then to another host. A flea can survive only a few days if it is taken off the host and left in the environment.
In suitable environments, fleas can breed indoors all year. Fleas on pets can result in obvious irritation and itching. But they can also trigger a variety of more serious allergic reactions, including dermatitis ” an inflammation of the skin. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms. Because fleas feed on blood, blood loss can result in anemia, with puppies at particular risk.
Scratching may be the first sign that your pet has a problem with fleas. This scratching can lead to hair loss and skin infections. Look for irritated areas on your pet’s back, abdomen, neck, rump and on the inside of the thighs. If you think your pet has fleas, call your veterinarian.
Signs of fleas
- Hair loss
- Unusual amount of chewing and licking
- Black specks on pet’s skin and coat
What You Can Do to Help
It’s important to remove fleas, not only from your pet, but also from his/her environment. Be sure to regularly clean bedding, and vacuum the carpet, upholstery and tiled floors – anywhere a flea can hide. And immediately throw away the vacuum bag as it may contain flea eggs, which will hatch.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
It is difficult to eradicate fleas once they infest your pet and household. Just two fleas can multiply into millions of offspring, and you will only see a fraction of the fleas that are really present. For every one flea you see, generally there are ten more hiding.
It’s easy to prevent fleas by regularly using broad spectrum parasite prevention. Your veterinarian can recommend a preventive treatment such as Revolution®(selamectin). For more information, please visit www.dogsoftherevolution.com.
Important Safety Information
Revolution is generally well-tolerated. In studies, <1% of cats and dogs experienced digestive upset. Approximately 1% of cats experienced temporary hair loss at the application site. Do not use in sick, weak or underweight animals.
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