Be on your guard against fleas

dogs and cats. Column by Karen Wild EMN-140703-165243001
dogs and cats. Column by Karen Wild EMN-140703-165243001

Are dog and cat fleas the same?

There are different species of cat fleas and dog fleas, but they cannot be distinguished with the naked eye.

While cat fleas and dog fleas have the cat and the dog respectively as their preferred host, cat fleas will infest dogs and vice versa.

They can also feed from other animals, including humans. Therefore, both for the health of your pet and your own benefit it is important to prevent a flea infestation.

Fleas don’t have wings and are not able to fly, but they can jump very high so they can travel long distances despite their small size.

This makes it very easy for a pet to get fleas after coming into contact with another pet or environment that has fleas.

After jumping onto the dog or cat and feeding, the female fleas will lay eggs on the pet’s fur, and one flea can produce as many as 40 eggs in one day. These small, white eggs are very smooth so they can slide off the pet when they walk around the house, and fall into the carpet or bedding.

Eggs will hatch in 2-14 days, producing larvae. Flea larvae, unlike their parents, cannot feed directly from the host so they eat digested blood passed from adult fleas (red “flea dirt”), skin cells, and other debris.

After growing for 5-20 days, larvae will make cocoons and enter the pupae stage. In this stage the fleas are protected until the environmental conditions are right for an adult flea to develop. They can survive like this for months or years.

Within a few hours from developing into adults and emerging from the cocoon, the fleas will feed on their host and the females will then be able to lay eggs, starting the same life cycle again.

It is important that when an infestation is suspected or confirmed not only the pets are treated, but also the environment.

Adult fleas feed by sucking blood from their host and can cause lots of health problems to pets – directly and by spreading infectious diseases.

There are many different types of flea treatments available, but before trying a new product it is important to make sure that it is a licensed veterinary product and safe for your pet.