Some pets or people may be allergic to flea saliva, which causes flea allergy dermatitis (think super-itchy spots with hair-loss); young, sick or elderly pets can become anemic from too much blood loss.
These wingless insects are capable of jumping long distances. While cat and dog fleas prefer to feast on animal blood, they will turn to a human host if needed.
The lifecycle of a flea has four stages:
- Eggs, which fall from the host into the environment
- Larvae, which live off of the fallen fecal matter of adult fleas found in carpets and in lawns.
- Pupal stage, which is the cocoon. They do not emerge until a host is detected (via warmth / vibration)
- Adult stage, which feasts on blood.
If you do have a flea infestation, it is important to treat the pet’s environment as well to eliminate flea eggs and larvae.
There are many over-the-counter and prescription-only products that help solve flea problems.
Over-the-counter: Flea sprays both for the pet and environment, shampoos and collars.
While the costs may be lower for over-the-counter products, they often need to be reapplied to solve a flea infestation.
- Topical treatments such as Advantage or Revolution
- Pills such as Program or Sentinel
The newer prescription products are more expensive. They are usually dispensed in a six-month package, to be applied monthly for the flea season. However, they are safer, easier and more effective than over-the-counter products. These products often have additional benefits, such as heartworm protection, preventing tick, lice and mite infestations. Because of their ease of use, their safety, and their efficacy, they are highly recommended.
It is important to read all of the instructions carefully before using any flea-control product. Follow all the instructions. Never use flea productions designed for dogs on cats, and vice versa. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian.
- Use a flea comb several times a week on all pets.
- Vacuum frequently, disposing of bags immediately after use.
- Long grass can host fleas: keep lawns mowed.
- Wash pet bedding weekly.
- To protect cats from fleas and ticks, as well as a host of other outdoor hazards, cats should be kept indoors at all times.