Fleas are small brown or black wingless insects that feed on the blood of dogs and cats and in some cases even humans. These insects cause considerable irritation and distress to pets. Severe infestations may lead to anemia from blood loss. It is important to note that a flea can transmit tapeworms if ingested by a dog or cat. The best place to look for fleas on your pet is the hindquarters, base of the tail, abdomen and groin. If no fleas are found, tiny black granules that resemble pepper may be
observed. This material is flea feces and consists primarily of blood. To distinguish this material from dirt, place it on a piece of white paper or towel and add water. If the material turns a rust color, fleas and eggs are nearby.
After taking a blood meal the female flea can lay thousands of eggs on the animal and in the animal’s environment. The eggs prefer draft-free areas of the house where they hatch into larva. The larvae require a minimum of 3 weeks to hatch but can remain in the environment for months. Once hatched the flea aggressively seeks a blood meal.
Tick Identification and Life Cycle:
Ticks are wingless arthropods that can live for 4 or more years. They feed primarily in the spring and fall but can be found attached to you or your pet any time of the year. If they feed for very long they often cause a red, raised and often painful area on the skin of your pet. Ticks molt through various larval and nymph stages that are barely visible to the naked eye. A tick, if left undisturbed, may feed for several days on one host. As it does, it inflates and engorges with blood. Some diseases such as Lyme disease are transmitted only after the tick feeds for 24-48 hours. Other diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Babesia may be instantly transmitted once a tick has attached.
Many products exist that are highly effective and safe for eliminating fleas and ticks on cats and dogs. The following is a list of products sold at and recommended by TimberviewVeterinary Hospital:
-Activyl (for both cats and dogs) kills adult fleas, stops eggs and larvae from developing for one month
-Seresto Collar (for both cats and dogs) kills adult fleas, flea larvae and ticks for 8 months
-Bravecto (topical for cats, oral for dogs) kills adult fleas and ticks and lasts for 12 weeks
-Revolution (for both dogs and cats) kills adult fleas and various other parasites for one month
Treatment of the environment is an important step in controlling a flea infestation. We recommend vacuuming on a daily basis to help deplete fleas and flea eggs from carpet and furniture, be sure to throw out the bag each time. Keeping lawns mowed can reduce flea and tick exposure. In order to break a flea infestation it is necessary that all pets in the home be treated with a flea preventative for a minimum of 3 consecutive months.