Facts About Fleas
- Fleas are highly specialized bloodsucking parasites belonging to the order of insects called Siphonaptera, which means “wingless siphon”.
- They hold the formidable record for claiming more victims than all the wars ever fought, being responsible for the spread of the “bubonic” plague in the 15th century causing the deaths of over 200 million people.
- To aid in the detection of a host, fleas possess two short antennae on the head that are sensitive to heat, vibration, carbon dioxide, changes in air currents and shadows.
- The hind legs are well developed for jumping, enabling fleas to leap vertically up to 18cm and horizontally 32cms. (An equivalent hop for a human would be 75m vertically and 137m horizontally.)
- In just 30 days, 10 female fleas under ideal conditions can multiply to over a quarter of a million fleas at different life stages.
- As a flea blood feeds, a small amount of anticoagulant is injected with the saliva to permit easy siphoning of the blood. Its is this saliva that is responsible for the manic scratching and biting in our pets by causing a localized allergic reaction, otherwise known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD).
- In some pets, one flea bite can lead to severe FAD, resulting in hair loss, skin infections and a very unhappy pet!
As with most things veterinary, prevention is the key to control.
- Keep your pet flea free. The range of products available varies widely. In our experience a good quality “spot-on” such as Advantage, Frontline Plus, Revolution or Advocate provides the best method for controlling fleas. Unlike flea collars or washes, these products continue to work for 4 weeks thereby eliminating any new “passengers” your pet may pick up during this period. The effectiveness of these products is not affected by bathing or swimming.
- Treat ALL pets in the household (including farm cats!).
- Clean your pet’s bedding and sleeping areas regularly.
- Flea larvae love making lush carpets their new home so regular vacuuming and flea bombs are helpful.
- Keeping a clean backyard has also been shown to reduce the flea population.