Fleas | Insect Repellent Clothing, Tick Protection

Fleas

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Fleas
There are more than 2,000 identified species of fleas. One of several common species in the United States is Ctenocephalides canis, a dog flea. Brown, hard-bodied and narrow in shape, it measures just 1/16 of an inch long. Fleas do not have wings, but their legs are exceptionally suited for jumping. Both male and female adult fleas suck blood. While fleas cannot lay eggs without feeding on blood, they can live as long as a year without a blood meal. Fleas feed on many different animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice and people.

Each female flea lays 3 to 18 eggs at a time, which hatch in 1 to 12 days. Usually, the white, worm-like larva goes through its three developmental stages within a week or two—becoming a small cocoon, then a pupa and finally, an adult flea searching for blood. Hot, wet weather is conducive for flea egg-laying, but hot, dry conditions encourage adult fleas to be active.

Loosely deposited flea eggs readily fall off the hairs of an animal. So when a dog is infested, wherever it goes, flea eggs will be left behind—on the ground, flooring, rugs, beds or other furniture. Dog fleas usually prove most prevalent in the area where a dog sleeps.

When dogs are infested with fleas, they scratch constantly. This itching is caused by flea salivary secretions that get into dogs’ skin when fleas bite.

Fleas create a nuisance and health hazard for both dogs and people. In addition to the itching and skin problems associated with fleas, they can carry dog tapeworm. Fleas may also cause severe itching in people. Certain individuals show greater sensitivity to flea bites; some even develop serious allergic reactions. Historically, fleas have caused great harm to human health, because they can carry diseases such as plague, typhus and tularemia.

Flea control proves difficult. Both a pet and its surroundings must be protected. Safeguarding only the pet is not enough, because it can easily become re-infested as new fleas appear in its surroundings.

You will find that dogs are easier to protect from fleas if they are kept in fenced or otherwise isolated areas where they are unlikely to come in contact with other animals. Help discourage flea larvae from multiplying by keeping your lawn well-trimmed, and removing tall weeds and brush. Also note that damp areas are more likely to harbor flea populations. Because rodents such as squirrels and chipmunks can spread fleas, discourage them from residing in your yard.

Regular laundering removes fleas and flea eggs from fabrics; frequent vacuuming effectively eliminates them from rugs and floors. Dogs should be groomed often to help prevent flea infestation.