Fleas in Home: Tips to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats and Dogs

14 May 2018
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Facts and Prevention Tips to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats and Dogs

Why is it that the mere mention of fleas causes one to scratch at the phantom itches that suddenly consume us? Probably because of their natural being.

No one wants to deal with a flea infestation, but the more you know about them, the better equipped you are on preventing a miniature plague in your home; or how to deal with a flea infestation.

Facts About Fleas

1. The flea has four stages in its life consisting of first the egg, hatching into larvae, blossoming into the adolescence of a pupa, until finally becoming a biting adult.
2. Fleas are like vampires, in that they feed on the blood of their hosts. Not only attaching to themselves on domesticated pets, but they will also fasten themselves onto humans, birds, reptiles and wild animals.
3. In a lifetime, the female flea will lay up to 2,000 eggs.
4. A female flea will also consume at least 15 times her size in blood on a daily basis.
5. A flea can survive without feasting on blood for more than a hundred days.
6. Fleas don’t have wings, but they are outstanding jumpers. Being capable of jumping eight inches high, considering its size, it is jumping 150 times their height. Similar to Superman, it would be the equivalent of a person jumping over a tall building in a single bound!
7. A flea can cause some illnesses in pets such as; anemia, tapeworm, or extreme cycles of intense itching.
8. Some pets can be prone to allergic reactions of flea saliva, which will enhance the irritation and itching symptoms.
9. If you suspect a flea problem, the best way to conduct your search is utilizing a flea comb.
10. There are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas. However, the Cat Flea is more commonly found on cats and dogs in the United States.

Cat Flea on white background

Cat Flea (Photo: Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org)

“Fleas don’t have wings, but they are outstanding jumpers. Being capable of jumping eight inches high, considering its size, it is jumping 150 times their height.”

-Control Exterminating

Fleas are parasitic insects which feed on the blood of animals all over the world. While fleas are incredibly common, especially on household pets, the fleas from cats and dogs are often different species and can require different methods of treatment.

Cat Fleas vs. Other Fleas

Cat fleas are usually of the species Ctenocephalides felis and while they are most common on cats, can also infect dogs. The majority of flea infestations in the United States are cat flea infestations–yes, even they are on your dog! Cat fleas infest over fifty different animals, including dogs, raccoons, and even badgers.

While cat fleas are the most common type of fleas, other fleas include the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis), the human flea, and the rat flea, among many others. Most “dog fleas” found on dogs are cat fleas, but dog fleas are usually not found on cats as they are not adapted to consume feline blood.

Symptoms of an infestation might include excessive scratching or red skin, as well as secondary infections. Cat fleas will bite dogs, but usually, don’t venture onto humans.

What Do Fleas Look Like?

Fleas of varying species are usually indiscernible unless placed under a microscope and examined by a professional. Most fleas are between a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch long and are a reddish brown hue. 

They possess three pairs of legs, with one pair that is larger than the other two and adapted to jumping. Fleas do not have wings but instead have a hard, shiny exoskeleton. They also have piercing mouths that can extract blood from their hosts with ease.

What Is the Life Cycle of Fleas?

Fleas go through four different stages in life. You will not find a juvenile flea on a pet–only an adult flea. Fleas of other stages can frequently be found in carpets, bedding, or on the yard. 

Eggs are usually laid on animal hosts, but these generally fall within eight or so hours. Flea eggs look a lot like miniature chicken eggs, just half a millimeter in size. A female flea lays up to twenty eggs per day.

Once the eggs hatch, a larval flea emerges. It resembles a spiny earthworm and is only about a quarter of an inch long. This stage of the flea has no legs but a large mouth, feeding on adult feces. It then spins a white cocoon and enters the pupa stage.

Very few fleas are actually adult fleas– this makeup only about five percent of the population. Therefore, it is exponentially important to control flea populations in all stages-not just the adults. Fleas can live for up to one year as long as they have blood to feed on.

Flea anatomy with its abdomen, thorax, antenna, head, legs, claws, mouth parts and genitalia

Flea Anatomy

What to Do About a Flea Infestation?

If you suspect that you, your home, or your pet has a flea infestation, you must address it immediately.

Flea bites are itchy and can make you feel downright uncomfortable, and they can make small animals extremely ill since any blood loss is unhealthy. 

Flea bites can also transmit flea tapeworms, a dangerous risk for many humans and pets as they can cause intestinal blockages and vomiting.

Other diseases spread by fleas, including cat fleas, include typhus or Bartonella.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats and Dogs

First, prevent your cat or dog from becoming an unknowing bearer of fleas by making sure they are treated each year with an easy-to-use, over-the-counter preventative medication, such as Frontline. Talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet is at risk, and what you can do to prevent infestation.

If an infestation has taken hold, make sure you clean your home thoroughly and treat it with a veterinarian-approved flea removal product. You should wash linens and pet bedding in the hottest setting possible. You may also need to contact a local pest control service to figure out a customized service for your unique condition.

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“If you suspect that you, your home, or your pet has a flea infestation, you must address it immediately. Flea bites are itchy and can make you feel downright uncomfortable, and they can make small animals extremely ill since any blood loss is unhealthy.”

-Control Exterminating

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How to Prevent Fleas in Your House and Yard

1. A natural way to help prevent an infestation is investing in nematodes. They are microscopic, worm-like organisms that feed on flea larvae. Spray them in moist and shady areas, especially flower or vegetable gardens. By doing so, you can cut down the larvae population by up to 90% within a 24 hour period.
2. Another natural remedy is to set eucalyptus leaves around the exterior of your home, and around the interior where you believe fleas might be present. Fleas detest the fragrance and will retreat from the smell.
3. It is best to have a consistent and designated place where your pet sleeps that you clean regularly.
4. Avoid allowing your pet to follow you up to the attic space or in the basement.
5. Vacuum your carpets, furniture, upholstered items, and all flooring. Be sure to dispose of the bag, or dump the canister as far from your home as possible.
6. Wash all bedding and fabrics that pets come into contact with.
7. Drown the fleas in soapy water from off your pet by combing your pet with flea combs.
8. Call Control Exterminating who specializes in flea removal.

Control Exterminating has the expertise, superior equipment, and top quality chemicals to make sure your home’s flea infestation is quickly exterminated. Call us today to schedule your appointment in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and other New York City areas!***

 

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