Spring brings warmer weather, “April showers”, flowers…and fleas!

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Flea season begins in April, reaching its peak during the August humidity. A single female flea can lay 25 eggs per day, or 800 in her lifetime. Fleas can survive several weeks without ‘feeding’ on a host animal. Adult fleas can jump up to 20 cm vertically and 40 cm horizontally. Larvae can travel 30 cm per minute.

Be proactive and protect your pets and your home from an infestation.  Fleas can make your life miserable, and they will certainly make your dog and/or cat’s life miserable too.  Fleas can transmit parasites and cause allergic reactions.  One flea bite can potentially cause your pet great pain from the constant rubbing and scratching of the irritated skin, if they are allergic to fleas. Also called “pruritus,” this unpleasant itching can become so intense that pets will actually scratch until the skin bleeds.

The most common flea (there are more than 2,000 species of fleas!) is the cat flea and notwithstanding this name, the cat flea is found on both dogs and cats.  Fleas are small, brown, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on blood.  Fleas can live just about anywhere, but they prefer the warmth of a furry pet and they thrive in humid conditions. How can you tell if your pet has fleas? Watch for ‘flea dirt’ – small black specks in your pet’s coat, which are actually dried blood excreted by the fleas. During regular grooming, collect any debris from your pet’s coat onto a white paper. Moisten the specks with a drop of water and if they turn red or reddish-brown, your pet likely has fleas. Catching fleas early will make treating the problem easier.

The four-stage life cycle of fleas requires a consistent, ongoing approach to effectively prevent infestation. In the pupal stage, fleas are at their hardest to eliminate and they can remain in that stage for up to 6 months.

 

ImageLifecycle of a Flea

1st Stage – Egg: The adult female flea lays eggs only on your pet. As your pet moves around the house, eggs will fall off onto rugs and furniture which then hatch into larvae within 2 – 4 days.

2nd Stage – Larva: These maggot-like creatures feed off of protein sources found in carpets and/or furniture. A larva will feed on crumbs of food or “flea dirt” to sustain life. Within two weeks, the larva spins a cocoon.

3rd Stage – Pupa: The pupa’s cocoon protects it from outside dangers while it becomes an adult. While in this state, it is invulnerable to most flea control products. The flea will stay in this state for as little as 7-10 days, hatching when it senses the vibration and heat of an animal.  Note: Without the right amount of heat and the presence of a host to feed on, a pupa will remain dormant for up to 6 months. This is the reason behind many flea re-infestations.

4th Stage – Adult: The flea seeks out a host, takes a blood meal, mates within 48 hours, and lay eggs within 72 hours to begin the reproductive cycle again.

 

What is the best way to avoid a flea infestation?

Prevention!  You’ll find preventative products  at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store that are easy to use. The best product is a ‘spot’ treatment that you apply once per month for complete protection. Try Zodiac PowerSpot for small or large dogs or Zodiac Spot-On for cats. These products are effective against preventing a flea infestation.  Flea collars are also great for preventing fleas. One collar can usually kill fleas for the whole flea season (up to 5 months).

 

Help!  We have fleas!

It’s important to treat your pets and your house on a regular basis in order to manage an infestation.  A three-step process, done properly, can help you to eliminate fleas once and for all.

1.  Relief for your pet

It’s also important that you provide immediate relief for your pet with products like pet sprays or flea treatment shampoos.  Shampoos, wipes, sponge-ons, and on-animal sprays work fast because they are applied directly to a pet’s entire coat and quickly penetrate to the skin. It takes just a few minutes for the fleas to die when they come in contact with the active ingredients.

NOTE: Please follow the directions on any flea treatment products that you use on your pets. Some products will protect your pet for a longer period of time than others, but all products should be applied only as often as stated on the label.  Please speak to the Healthy Pet Care Specialists at Global Pet Foods stores across Canada as they can assist you with choosing the right product and helping you to understand how to apply it properly.  It is critical that you do not apply a product intended for dogs to your cats and vice versa as this can cause serious health implications. Again, it’s critical that you read the labels, follow directions, and apply the product properly.

2. Treat your Home

Although a flea infestation does affect your pet, the real issue is within the area where your pet stays in your home.  Flea eggs can lay dormant for months, so treating your home is critical.  A female flea may lay as many as 40-50 eggs on your pet each day, which fall off into your pet’s environment. Your pet can deposit a large number of eggs just by being in any area of your home for a brief moment. In addition, the flea larvae that hatch out from these eggs can migrate for several feet into areas your pet may never have actually been.

It’s imperative that you use appropriate products that will eliminate fleas, and treat all of your carpets, upholstered furniture, pet bedding, and favorite pet resting areas.  This is the only way to fully eliminate the adult flea population. It’s also important to treat underneath your furniture and in your closets because the larvae that hatch will seek out dark, hiding places and nest. A premise spray such as Zodiac Premise 2000 will kill adult fleas, stop eggs from hatching and kill the larvae.  This product will also continue to work for up to seven months.

Pets and children can safely re-enter a treated area once the spray is dry.

Treat all pet bedding by washing it in very hot water and then put it in your dryer on the hottest setting possible to kill the fleas.  Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a washing machine or the settings are not hot enough, you should dispose of all pet bedding.

After you vacuum your home, remember to throw away the vacuum bag because it’s an ideal location for a cocoon to form. The protective cocoon of the pupal flea allows it to survive most treatments. In order to be killed, fleas must first emerge from their cocoons and come in direct contact with the spray. It usually takes about one to two weeks for pupal fleas to emerge from cocoons so it’s not unusual to continue to see fleas for approximately 2-3 weeks after treating a pet and home.

3.  Maintenance

Once the infestation is resolved, it’s time to implement preventative measures to avoid an reoccurrence of a flea infestation.   Choose a product such as a topical ‘spot’ treatment or a collar. Products that contain Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) are proven effective at killing adult fleas and also interrupting the growth cycle by killing eggs and larvae.  Zodiac makes a variety of on-animal products with an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) to kill flea eggs. Since fleas lay their eggs on the pet, on-animal flea egg control prevents infestation right at the source.  Zodiac’s premise control products also contain an IGR to kill flea eggs and flea larvae for 7 or 12 months, depending on the product. This will help to prevent pre-adult fleas, that may already be present in the environment, from maturing and jumping back on your pet.

Global Pet Foods carries a wide variety of flea & tick products, including all-natural products.  Keep in mind that some natural products may not eliminate a full flea infestation.   We can assist you with flea & tick prevention and treatment for your pets.  Use our Store Locator to find a store near you.  http://www.globalpetfoods.com/store-locations

Flea Facts (courtesy of Zodiac Pet):

  • Over 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas are known throughout the world.
  • Fleas are a wingless species with a streamlined body to permit running on the skin between hairs.
  • Breaking the flea cycle by following a 3-Step program helps control the flea population in your environment.
  • The most troublesome type of flea to dogs is actually the Cat Flea. The female Cat Flea may produce up to 50 eggs a day and 2,000 eggs in a lifetime.
  • Fleas can transmit tapeworms and can cause severe skin irritation in pets.
  • Dog fleas can cause flea-bitten anemia, flea-bite dermatitis, and tapeworm infestations.
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis is the most common skin disorder of dogs and a major cause of skin disease in cats.
  • Some pets eat 50 to 90 percent of the fleas off of their body. This is one of the leading causes of tapeworm in pets.
  • Fleas pass through a complete life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult.
  • Insect growth regulators, such as S-Methoprene, help prevent flea egg development.
  • Female fleas start producing eggs within 24 to 48 hours after taking their first blood meal and can lay up to 40 to 50 eggs per day.
  • In just 30 days, 10 female fleas can produce under ideal conditions 90,000 eggs.
  • A female flea ingests an average of 15 times her body weight in blood daily
  • Up to 5,000 fleas may live on a dog at one time without treatment.
  • A flea can jump as high as 13 inches.
  • Up to 95 percent of pre-adult fleas and ticks are found in places your pets hang out.
  • Females lay eggs in their hair coat and fall off into the pet�s environment.
  • Flea larvae can be found indoors in floor cracks & crevices, along baseboard, under rugs, and in furniture or beds. Outdoors, flea larvae live in soil (moist sand boxes, dirt crawl space under the house, under shrubs, etc.) or wherever the pet may rest or sleep.
  • Optimum conditions for flea larvae are 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit with shaded and high humidity. For this reason, treating the home is an important step in flea control.

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1 Comment

Filed under Cats, Dogs, Education, Flea & Tick, Healthy Pets, Pet Care

One response to “Spring brings warmer weather, “April showers”, flowers…and fleas!

  1. One of my cats was allergic to fleas and the littlest bite would make her skin inflamed and itchy. Prevention was essential.