Fleas feed on the blood of dogs, cats and humans. They can live without food for several months, but females must have a blood meal before they can produce eggs.
One female can deliver up to 50 eggs a day. In our own homes, the theoretical number of flea eggs left around your house after three days of an infestation of 500 fleas can be as much as 20,000. The normal life cycle of a flea takes about thirty days to come full circle, but in the absence of a hoast, they can lay dormant for up to nine months. And once they are dormant, it may take up to ten days to trigger them into action.
The problem is that as they are barely visible to the eye, we don’t see them until there is a real infestation and they don’t only bite our animals but us too. Given the opportunity, fleas will bite cats, dogs and humans alike. The other problem is that whatever you can see of the flea population with your eyes, which are the adult male and female fleas, they only account five percent of the total population. The rest of the ninety five percent of the population is made up of pupae, larvae and eggs. They might only be a small parasite, but in their numbers than can cause severe problems. In fact, The Black Death in the mid 14-th Century in the UK was caused by fleas
If your infestation gets really bad, fleas can start living in beds and blankets, biting you all the time.
Fleas can cause:
- Skin problems and infections
- Flea Allergic Dermatitis
Flea allergic dermatitis or FAD
The most common form of animal allergy, especially in dogs, is Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD). It causes intense itch, hair loss, and a scabby skin rash in many sensitive cats and dogs. Even a single flea bite can lead to a serious reaction in pets that are hypersensitive to flea saliva.
How to successfully treat a flea infestation
- If your dog does not have an infestation, herbal applications available from pet stores, supermarkets and pharmacies are ok to use. This acts as a repellent. Consumers make the mistake of buying herbal repellents and mistake them for prescription pest control applications.
- For an infestation the only full proof treatment is a spot on or spray that contains prescription only ingredients. This contains a poison that gets absorbed in the animal’s blood stream and so breaks the life cycle because any time a flea bites your dog, it cannot recreate and lay eggs. It may take two to three months to get things under control because all the rest of the ninety five percent of the population have to develop, hatch and have their turn to get poisoned. So don’t give up after the first four weeks.
- Both the Frontline spray and spot on comes highly recommended. There is a large variety of brands available and the likes of Frontline and Advanta is but only two. Make sure though like we said, it is a spot on that contains prescription only poison and not just herbs like margosa or citronella.
- Bear in mind that fleas will not survive in a very hot boil wash. If you wash your dog to try and get off what fleas are visible on them, you will have to brush off or pull out the fleas on their coat and flush them away. They only look dead, but don’t be fooled. Normal to cola temperature water only stuns them temporarily. As soon as they dry out they come alive again. Gather up all the dogs bedding if you want to keep it (throw it out if you can its much less trouble!) and run it through the washing machine on a boil wash. The same goes for anything else in the house that you feel may have been infested with fleas and are able to be boil washed.
- Use a good household flea spray for areas in the house that can’t be washed, in conjunction with spot on and a hot wash. Do be careful not to spray that on yourself or on your pets. Some of the household applications even recommend you leave the house for a half hour, sometimes up to an hour. It just depends on what type of household treatment you animal care provider recommend for you.