Fleas and Flea Tapeworm in Dogs and Cats
Fleas are a very common parasite that can affect your pets. If not controlled, fleas can bite your pet’s skin and cause irritation, itching, over grooming and self-trauma. Some pets are also allergic to flea saliva, which results in severe skin irritation known as flea allergy dermatitis. Adult fleas can bite your pet up to 400 times a day and flea infestation can compromise your pet’s health and comfort. In severe infestations, it can even result in anaemia. Monthly protection is a critical part of eliminating their discomfort and supporting great health.
Humans can also be impacted by fleas. Flea bites can cause an itch and rash in people that can last up to two weeks. The thought of fleas being in the fur of your pet and dropping out in places such as pet beds, human beds, carpets, rugs, furniture and kennels, is enough to make you want to scratch right now!
Quick Flea Facts!
At maximal egg production, one female laying flea could results in 20000 fleas within just 60 days!
Fleas can jump more than 150 times their own height!
Fleas pupae can survive in their cocoons for up to a year, just waiting for your pet or yourself to come in contact with them!
Flea and Flea Tapeworm Lifecycle
Controlling fleas with monthly protection, has the twofold benefit of helping to control fleas, as well as avoiding a type of tapeworm which is carried by fleas (Dipylidium caninum).
Fleas: The flea lifecycle involves adult fleas laying eggs which fall into the environment (dirt, carpet, bedding, etc). A female flea can lay up to 30-50 eggs each day. The flea lifecycle can take between several weeks to several months depending on the environmental conditions. The eggs shed into the environment develop into larvae, pupae and then into adults which can jump onto an unsuspecting host. If there is no host available the larvae can stay resting in the cocoon until the flea is stimulated to hatch. Fleas can be stimulated to emerge by movement, heat, noise or carbon dioxide from either pets or people. This is why sometimes if you go away on holiday and come back into the house, there is a plague of fleas as they all hatch as you re-enter the house. As the larvae can be in the environment for many months, it is important to treat fleas all year round to prevent infestations.
Flea Tapeworm: Dogs and cats can get flea tapeworms by grooming and swallowing a flea infected with a tapeworm egg/s. Once the flea is digested inside the dog or cat, the tapeworm eggs are free to develop into an adult tapeworm which then can live in the pet’s intestine. The adult tapeworm can grow up to 50cm in length. Humans, particularly children who may not wash their hands as well as adults, can also be infected with this tapeworm. By controlling fleas on our pets, we can stop the flea tapeworm lifecycle.
Prevention and Treatment of Fleas, including Flea Tapeworm.
The best protocol to prevent flea problems, or to treat an existing flea issue on your pet or in your home, is to treat all pets at the house with monthly flea control products. This should be continued all year round as flea larvae can sit in the environment and emerge months later. Reducing the fleas in the environment can also be achieved by vacuuming all areas well, especially where the pets spend most of their time. It is also worthwhile to wash their bedding in a hot wash weekly for 4 weeks.
Pet Lovers Club delivers complete personalised parasite protection directly to your door every month, making the product choice easy, ensuring you never forget and most importantly optimising the health and lifespan of your much loved pets.
By Dr Lydia Matheson BVSc
Pet Lovers Club Vet