The biggest problem people face as dog owners is undoubtedly concerning the fleas. Dogs get infested by fleas by contact with other animals or when exposed to a particular environment as such. Fleas do not fly, they jump and hence, the closer the animal is to a flea, the more the chances of getting infested. These insects prefer a specific temperature between 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-80 percent. So in few countries this may be a seasonal problem while few other countries may have to deal with it for the most part of a year.
Fleas are a dark copper coloured and their bodies are the sizes of heads of a pin. The flea’s bite can cause itching to the animal but if the animal is sensitive or allergic to fleas, then the bite can cause hair loss, inflammation, and other secondary skin infections apart from itching. Some pets are really hypersensitive and hence even if infested by a single flea, they begin itching all over. Fleas can be seen swiftly scurrying along the surface of the fur but if you need to spot them, keep in mind that these insects don’t like the light so searching in the denser furry area and under the belly and armpits will give better results. If you are not sure if the itching is because of fleas on not, look for flea dirt which is the poop of fleas. They look like pepper specks spread around, pick some of them out and place them on a wet paper towel. They are composed of digested blood, so if the specks spread out like tiny blood stains then it is confirmed that your pet is infested.
Some people may still not see fleas as a big problem. I have personally met people who say “Come on! It’s an animal. It likes to play around everywhere, its obvious there will be fleas. Stray dogs survive now, don’t they? It isn’t such a big deal” … Yeah I know it’s ridiculous. Hence it is important to know why fleas are not cool or okay.
Now when we talk about fleas, we must know the life cycle since the medication developed these days are aimed at attacking particular stages of a flea’s life cycle. The life cycle consists of the following stages; egg, larva, cocoon and adult. The period for a life cycle to complete, depends on the temperature and environment conditions.
The host for these fleas are generally warm blooded animals but even then, they are resistant to cold temperatures. The adult female flea typically lives on the host for several weeks during which she sucks on the blood of the host for up to two to three times and lays around thirty eggs in a day. That means, over its lifespan, on an average, an adult female flea lays several hundred eggs. These eggs fall of the host’s body on the carpet, or in the garden, wherever the pet spends most of its time.
These eggs are very tiny, about 1/10th the size of a grown adult flea and hence they even fit in between crevices on the floor or walls. Here on they proceed to develop and hatch into larvae. They continue to develop, feeding on organic matter, skin scales and even the poop of the adult flea since it is rich in blood.
The larvae grow and then form a cocoon. They are very resilient and the cocoons protect them, hence the larvae can stay in the cocoon stage for a very long time until the environmental conditions are just right for them to hatch into grown fleas. If a host is around, they can detect the heat and the exhaled amount of carbon dioxide is another indicator. Once they sense it, they get ready to hatch and a fully formed and developed flea can jump onto a host as immediately as its cocoon opens up. Now that is creepy!
If the conditions are optimal, a flea can complete its life cycle in about two weeks. So many eggs can be laid in that period of time and it could be out in the garden as well as the indoors. Understanding the life cycle enables us to estimate how hard it is to get rid of the flea menace. Just a little anti-flea spray or powder here and there won’t do because you never really know how far the problem has gone.
There are many products available in the market that claim flea control but it’s always better to go for the newer ones as they are more improved and effective. There are some products that do not kill the flea but kill the eggs. That at least helps in breaking the cycle; eventually the fleas could be hunt down. It’s better to have the entire indoors and garden area using the highly effective foggers.
Just know that treatment of fleas is super important and you do not take it lightly.