Although there are over 2000 flea species in the world, pet owners should be concerned with only one: Ctenocephalides felis, the cat flea. This is the flea that we find on our pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, and other species) in 99.9 percent of cases. In order to understand how to control the damage caused by this tiny little animal, learn all you can about it.
Fleas suck blood and blood loss leads to anemia. A heavy flea burden is lethal, especially to smaller or younger animals. The cat flea has even been known to kill animals as large as dairy calves through heavy infestation.
Fleas can cause severe itching and also other problems such as skin infections and hairloss. Some animals can become allergic to fleas, and flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats.
Fleas can carry and transmit a bacteria called Bartonella that can cause health issues in cats, dogs, and people. Fleas can carry a type of parasite, a tapeworm called Dipylidium caninum, that can suck nutrients from the pet’s intestine and cause anal itching.
There are four life stages of the flea. For effective flea control, it is important to know how to break this life cycle in more than one place.
The flea life cycle consists of egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Eggs are laid in the hair coat and are designed to fall off your pet and into your home. Larvae hatch from the eggs and develop in a pet’s environment by feeding on adult flea feces (i.e. digested blood) that fall out of the hair coat of the pet. Larvae eventually spin cocoons, often within carpet fibers, for pupation. Pupae are resistant to freezing, drying, and insecticides, and can lie dormant for many months! New fleas develop from pupae and can begin feeding within hours of finding a dog or cat. The entire flea life cycle can be completed in as little as three weeks.
San Diego’s amazing year-round weather creates a mecca for these tiny critters. We never truly get cold enough to only have “one” flea season. If an infestation occurs, it can take up to 3 months of consistent flea prevention (for all the pets in the household), cleaning and vacuuming to get it under control. For this reason, we recommend administering flea prevention all year to truly safe-guard your home from fleas. See what flea prevention(s) will best suit your pet under our Services tab!