Fleas are a common problem for all pet owners, but especially in Southern climates, which are a hotbed for the parasites. Dogs are especially prone to flea infestations. Still, though you may have heard of fleas, you likely still have questions. Here are some of the most common flea questions answered for you.
What are fleas?
Fleas are insects that are classified as parasites because they feed off of their host (by eating blood). The females lay eggs after feeding. They move by jumping, and they can typically jump large distances (when compared to their small size).
What do fleas look like?
Fleas are small, and they have six legs (though you likely can’t see the legs with the naked eye). They are dark brown or black. Their droppings look like small specks of dirt, which has earned it the nickname “flea dirt.”
How long do fleas live?
A flea grows from an egg to an adult in about a month. They go through four total growth stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. A female egg mates then lays the eggs two days later. It takes a few days to a week for the eggs to hatch. The flea will then grow, becoming an adult flea about a month later. Most fleas live roughly 100 days if they aren’t killed sooner.
Why are fleas harmful?
Fleas are harmful because they cause extreme discomfort for their hosts. They can spread disease, and their bites are itchy and painful. In addition, many pets and humans are allergic to fleas and may contract a secondary condition known as dermatitis. It’s not uncommon for your pet (or yourself) to contract a serious illness from a flea, so it’s essential that you prevent fleas, if possible.
How can you tell if you have fleas?
There are many telltale signs of fleas. You may notice your pet scratching or even developing a skin rash as a result of a flea infestation. It’s not uncommon for pets to lose patches of hair due to fleas. You may also see “flea dirt” on your bedding or other soft surfaces in your home. You may also notice bites on your pets or other family members. These bites are small and red. Finally, you may see the actual fleas themselves. Though they are tiny, they can easily be seen if you’re looking for them. If you’re wondering if you have a flea problem, try wearing white socks and walking into a room. Usually, fleas will jump onto your socks, and they will clearly stand out against the white background.
How do you get rid of fleas?
There are many different ways to get rid of fleas. You can find commercial pesticides for both indoor and outdoor use. There are also shampoos and topical treatments available, as well as pills and flea collars. Some people use alternative treatments like Borax or Diatomaceous Earth.
How can you prevent fleas?
If you believe you have a flea infestation, take your pet to your veterinarian to discuss treatment options. You may need to work with a professional to completely remove fleas from your home, yard, and pet. Once the fleas are gone, use a preventative medication like Nexgard to keep them away.
Here are some helpful resources to items referenced in the article that can help protect your dog from fleas: