Fleas are small, wingless, dark brown insects. Their thin bodies allow them to hop, jump and move quickly through hair and feathers. Fleas are usually brought into the home by dogs, cats or other furry pets. In order to live and reproduce, they feed off the blood of humans and animals, such as dogs and cats.
When fleas bite humans, it can produce a small red spot with a light-colored center. If an allergic skin reaction occurs, swelling and blisters may appear. Many dogs and cats develop allergies to flea saliva. If an animal is having an allergic reaction to a flea bite, it will scratch or rub its skin until it becomes raw with sores.
Diseases Spread By Fleas
- Plague: A bacterial disease carried by rodents that are spread through the bite of an infected flea.
- Tapeworm: An intestinal parasite obtained by swallowing an infected flea.
- Murine Typhus: A disease spread by the bite of a rat flea.
Prevention is the best way to control flea bites. Take preventative measures before flea season begins in spring and summer. Effective products that control fleas have made flea management on pets without pesticides possible.
On The Pet:
Several types of products are available to control fleas on dogs and cats. The most effective and safest products stop normal growth or reproduction of fleas. These products cannot be used on their own. Proper management and sanitation is also needed, such as regular bathing and brushing.
Brush your pet daily and thoroughly with a fine-toothed metal flea comb. Fleas captured on the comb should be dropped into warm soapy water and flushed down the toilet. You may want to ask your veterinarian about flea products for your pet. Do not use products on pets with raw skin or open sores. If you notice skin irritation or an allergic reaction, consult your veterinarian.
Thoroughly vacuum floors, carpet, furniture, crevices around baseboards, cabinets and other infested areas at least every other day. Vacuum and wash pet bedding, as fleas are most common where pets sleep. Throw away vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag after use because fleas can develop inside.
Outdoor fleas live in coastal areas and other places with moderate temperatures and fairly high humidity.
Outdoor sprays are not needed unless you think there is a large number of adult fleas. Apply sprays directly in areas where pests rest such as dog houses, kennels and under decks. Be sure to follow the label instructions carefully.
If chemical control is needed, you should consult your veterinarian for your pet’s safety.
Flea Hiding Places
It is important to reach places where fleas like to hide when sanitizing and treating. Fleas lay tiny white eggs on the pet, that drop-off and hatch where pets spend most of their time. Such indoor areas can be under a chair, on a rug or the pet’s bedding.
The Flea Life Cycle
- Eggs: Fleas can lay up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs drop off wherever the host spends time, such as on furniture, carpet, or pet bedding.
- Larvae: In 1-10 days, tiny worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs. To avoid sunlight, they crawl into dark, low-traffic areas, often deep in carpeting below furniture.
- Pupae: Larvae start spinning small, sticky white cocoons built with carpet fibers, dust, and dirt. In ten days they become adults.
- Young Adults: Young adults remain in their cocoons until they find a nearby host.
- Adults: They bite and suck blood in order to live and reproduce.