It is usually not true that your pet picked up fleas while boarding or at the groomer’s. If boarding or groomed at a reputable pet clinic such as Cliffdale Animal Hospital in Fayetteville, NC, they will check your pet for fleas before it enters the facility and will treat for fleas if they are found. Your pet will be flea free when it returns home. However, newly emerged fleas in your home can get on your pet immediately when it returns home. Even indoor only pets can get fleas. Fleas can come inside on other pets and yes, they can come in on you! For this reason, all pets in the household need to be treated with a flea product because flea prevention is the key to flea control.
What are fleas?
Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of animals and people. Fleas can be irritating and can transmit diseases to dogs and cats such as: flea allergy dermatitis, anemia, tapeworms, and mycoplasma, to name a few. Once established in the environment, fleas are very difficult to eradicate. The humidity and stable temperatures inside the home provide a perfect habitat for fleas.
95% of the flea life cycle is in the environment, not on the pet.
The female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day. The tiny white eggs then drop off the pet along with the flea bowel movement, which looks like black specks. The eggs usually hatch within 2-14 days. The larva hatches from the egg and feeds on the flea bowel movement, pet dander, and other debris in the environment. The larva prefers dark areas and will migrate under furniture, deep into the carpet pile, into the cracks and crevices along the baseboards, and the creases of the furniture. In 5-18 days or longer, the larva spins itself into a cocoon becoming a pupa. Inside the pupa, the larva transforms into the adult flea which can emerge in 7-10 days. Thus, in as little as 2 weeks, a whole new crop of hungry fleas can emerge. They prefer to feed off your pet, but if your pet is unavailable humans will do.
Flea Prevention and Treatments
Cliffdale Animal Hospital has a variety of flea prevention products available. Fleas will die within 24 hours after they come in contact with an animal that is protected by these products, which will, in turn, prevent the laying of eggs and end the entire life cycle. The correct product for your pet depends on the kind of pet and its lifestyle. For topical treatment of fleas, we have Activyl. Comfortis is a pill that treats and prevents fleas in both dogs and cats. For flea, heartworm, and intestinal parasite prevention there is Trifexis (a pill) for dogs and Advantage Multi (a topical) for cats.
If fleas have already become established in your household and/or yard, treating the environment will kill some of the eggs and larva, but the pupa stage can be resistant to insecticide treatment. Pupa can remain dormant in the environment for as long as a year or more, waiting for the right conditions for the adult flea to emerge. Adult fleas can still emerge and you may see them on your pet, but by using the proper flea product on your pet they will quickly die and not be able to reproduce, thus breaking the life cycle of the flea. This is why it is important to keep your pet on flea prevention year around.
When treating the environment, we do not recommend the use of foggers as they do no treat the areas immature fleas like to hide. A premise spray is preferred as you can use it to treat the obvious areas as well as the dark places immature fleas like to hide such as along baseboards and under furniture. Knockout is a premise spray available to treat inside the home. There is also a yard spray for treating outside. Follow the directions carefully on any products you use. Regular cleaning of bedding, furniture, and high traffic areas in the home will also help.