The Foulness of Fleas: How to Identify, Prevent, and Treat Flea Infestation

If you share your home with cherished pets, then you understand the constant threat of fleas being brought into your home—a pest neither you nor your pets want. This quickly reproducing (and therefore quickly infesting) insect can easily turn from a minor nuisance into a human- and pet-tormenting terror.

The Truth About Fleas

Though flightless, fleas know how to get around. With over 2000 varieties, fleas are an extremely successful parasite whose homestead spans the globe, only excluding Antarctica.

If you’ve become used to the occasional flea on your pet, you may just pick it off and kill it with no further thought. But what you may now know is that a single flea likely indicates the presence of many more out of sight, as well as any number of eggs. Since a single missed female flea can lay up to 40 eggs a day, things left untreated can spiral out of control in just a few weeks.

Fleas and Diseases in Pets

Flea bites on our pets are generally accompanied by small amounts of the flea’s saliva.  That saliva can cause horrible allergic reactions often seen in dogs—the ones which bring them to chewing away parts of their coats and injuring themselves.

Since dogs and cats chew and bite at the irritations, the chance of them consuming one or several fleas is greatly increased. Those fleas can easily be harboring Dipylidium caninum eggs—the cause of tapeworm infestation.   When consumed, these eggs hatch inside your pet and manifest as worms in your pets’ droppings. While the thought of tapeworms can be unsettling to say the least, these intestinal parasites can be prevented by taking care of the carriers: fleas.

Fleas and Diseases in Humans

Fleas can be a disease vector not just for pets, but also, their human caretakers.  They can ingest bacteria in the blood they pick up when feeding on one animal and then transfer those bacteria to you and your family on the next bite. Rickettsia diseases like typhus and the famous bubonic plague (which you’d be forgiven for believing had been eradicated) are a couple troubling examples.

How to Prevent Fleas

Attentiveness and prevention are vital to protecting your home and pets from fleas. The main thing to do is to make your home and pets as unappealing to fleas as possible, by investing in preventative flea methods for your pets (topical applications, flea collars, etc.) and keeping your house clean. Vacuum and launder frequently to get any potential eggs and pupae out of the carpets, clothes, and especially pets’ bedding.

Since in most cases it isn’t practical to keep our pets locked inside the relative safety of the indoors, checking for signs of fleas coming inside along with Fido is imperative.

One of the best, most reliable ways to do this is just by brushing your pet with a flea brush or comb regularly. This simple device is extremely effective at catching fleas and their feces. When doing this, keep an eye out for “flea dirt” that may come off in the comb. This dirt-looking substance can be found when you part your pet’s fur and look at the skin. While it looks like specks of dirt, it’s actually the bloody excrement from fleas. The maggot-like flea larvae typically survive by eating this until they mature.

How to Treat for Fleas

If you’re seeing flea activity, our Field Experts have quite a few methods to eliminate the problem. With both exterior yard treatments and interior eradication options, we have a full-spectrum approach to help you and your furry family members and give you the peace-of-mind you deserve

 

 

Sources:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/evr_multi_understanding_the_flea_life_cycle

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig087