Flee!!! Fleas!!! Flee!!!
Over sixty percent of homes in the United States are home to at least one pet, including more than seventy million dogs and sixty million cats. Even the most conscientious pet owner will not be able to avoid the possibility of fleas and the other complications that come with the problem. It never ceases to amaze me how many people believe their pets are flea-free when, in reality, the poor creatures are rubbing their skin until it is raw. It is more likely that you will find flea dirt on your pet than an actual flea if you examine it closely. There is no reason for any pet to have to suffer from fleas in today’s world, given all of the advances that have been made in pet care.
The body of an adult flea is rigid and wingless, and it ranges in length from one sixteenth to one eightieth of an inch. Fleas are repulsive little creatures. They have three sets of legs, with the back legs being particularly long, which allows them to jump great distances. A flea has a horizontal jumping distance of thirteen inches and a vertical jumping distance of up to seven inches. Their bodies are elongated and flat, like those of sunfish, so that they can transition easily between hair, fur, and feathers. The egg, the larva, the pupa, and finally the adult flea are the stages that make up the flea life cycle. Depending on the temperature, the availability of food, and the species of flea, the average lifespan of a flea ranges anywhere from two weeks to eight months.
A female flea can lay anywhere from fifteen to twenty eggs in a single day, for a potential grand total of approximately six hundred eggs over the course of her life. Her eggs are laid loosely on your pet’s fur and fall off wherever your pet rests. This can happen anywhere on your pet. Depending on the conditions, the eggs can hatch into larva anywhere from two days to two weeks after being laid. In between five and fourteen days, the larva develops into a pupa that is called PETa, and then it matures into an adult flea.
Treating all of the areas that your pet can potentially access is necessary in order to get rid of a flea infestation. This includes the garden as well as the home and the automobile. The first step in getting rid of fleas is to get rid of the adult fleas.
The carpets, the furniture, the bedding, and even the cracks in the floor could all have eggs and larvae in them. They require a number of months of dormancy in order to mature. To successfully eradicate fleas from an area in its entirety, perseverance is required. Even if you follow all of these steps to the letter, there is still a possibility that you will not be able to eliminate fleas completely. This is because there are other potential hosts for fleas, such as the pets of other people or wild animals.
When treating your pet with chemicals, you should never take the approach that “more is better.” Take care to act in accordance with the directions. There are some products that can be fatal. Your pet’s veterinarian can point you in the right direction of the products that will be most beneficial to the health of your animal companion.
If you can see fleas on your pet, using flea shampoo is a good first line of defense against fleas. Keep in mind that the effects of this will wear off after one day at the most. Your pet will not retain any of the chemical’s residual effects. Dips are more potent than shampoos, and the chemicals in them remain on your pet for one to two weeks. This is a significant amount of chemicals, and their use is only recommended in situations where there is no other option, such as when there is an infestation of ticks or mites.
Flea collars release a poisonous gas that kills adult fleas on your pet’s head and neck, but not anywhere else on the body. The best way to use flea collars is to put them in the bag of your vacuum cleaner so that they can kill any fleas that are picked up in the house.
Flea powder and sprays are only effective for a period of two to three days, and their effectiveness is limited to adult fleas. This treatment has a short duration of effect, so spot treatments are recommended instead. Keep in mind that adult fleas only make up one percent to five percent of the total population. Spot treatments that are applied to your pet between the shoulder blades last for approximately one month. Some brands include components that prevent the development of the larval stage. My experiences with Frontline Plus have been very positive. Although I do not use it on my pregnant or nursing mothers, there are other breeders who do and they say it has had no negative effects on their animals.
Sprays of insecticide that contain insect growth regulators can be used around the house to kill flea eggs, larvae, and pupae in areas that have a high probability of being infested by fleas. It is recommended that you treat the entire home first, and then concentrate on the high-traffic areas, such as the pet beds, carpets, and furniture. Once they have hatched, flea larvae will move away from any sources of light and will begin to burrow deep into carpets as well as cracks along baseboards.
Oral medications work by preventing the larvae from maturing into their adult forms. Fleas are able to survive on pets that are treated with oral medications because the female flea consumes the blood of the pet and then lays eggs that are infertile. Oral treatments are ineffective against adult fleas.
On your pet, there will be no more than ten percent of the total flea population at any given time. You will not be able to eradicate an infestation if you only treat your pet. A single flea can feed on the blood of your pet 400 times in a single day, which is equivalent to its body weight in blood consumed. The likelihood of a pet developing serious health issues increases in proportion to the pet’s size. The previous year, I was able to save a litter of Chihuahua puppies that were weak and anemic as a result of flea bites. After applying Frontline Plus to their backs, I noticed that a significant number of fleas disappeared in a very short period of time. It took a few weeks for their anemia to clear up, and it also took some time for their hair to start growing back. I provided the pet breeder with education and have followed up with her since then to ensure that she is providing adequate care for her dogs. Frontline Plus not only eliminates adult fleas but also stops flea eggs from hatching into larvae, thereby preventing further infestations. (Because it spreads by utilizing the natural oils in the pet’s coat, avoid applying it within two days of the pet’s most recent bath.)
Some animals are allergic to the proteins that are found in flea saliva, and the constant itching can cause them to lose their hair permanently. The immune system of your animal companion is overreacting to the allergens, which are foreign substances. Scratching and itching all over the body will likely be the most noticeable symptom. Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing are some of the symptoms that may present themselves as a result of an infection of the respiratory system. You might experience discharge from your eyes or nose. It’s possible that the digestive system is involved, which could lead to symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Steroids are a useful tool for preventing an allergic reaction and providing instant relief when used appropriately.
It is common for pets to also have tapeworm because the fleas they ingest carry the parasite. Many people who were under the impression that their pet could not possibly have fleas discover that their pet does in fact have fleas when tapeworms are discovered. Keeping an eye out for worms that look like grains of rice is the quickest and easiest way to determine whether or not your pet has tapeworms. There is a high degree of difficulty in detecting them in stool samples. Tapeworms can be treated with a specialized medication that is available from your veterinarian. One of the puppies that I rescued suffered from such a severe infestation of roundworms and tapeworms that she developed an intestinal blockage and came dangerously close to passing away. My veterinarian performed a thorough examination on her, and she was treated with the appropriate wormers; however, she was unable to keep any food down. I administered fluids subcutaneously to her at home until she was able to once again tolerate food. She was able to make a full recovery.
It’s not just fleas that you have to worry about. Diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be transmitted to pets through tick bites. And the diseases carried by these ticks can be passed on to you and other members of your family. Please do not try to save a few dollars by taking shortcuts when it comes to the proper care of your pet. Your family, including your pet, is deserving of the best possible protection from these dreadful diseases. It is possible to rid both your pet and your home of parasites with the assistance of your veterinarian.
The fleas will be on the run! I don’t know how you are, but I’m itching like a crazed animal right now.