Lainie Kringen-Scholtz

Lainie Kringen-Scholtz

We have been seeing a ton of dogs and cats come in with fleas lately.

Below is a discussion on how these little buggers will make their way into your life.

The flea

The most common type of flea that we have in our pets is Ctenocephalides felis. These fleas are great at two things: eating and reproducing. They make their living by sucking blood, which in extreme cases, can be lethal.

Once their bellies are full of your pet’s blood, they lay eggs on your pet. The larvae hatch and feed on adult flea feces (flea dirt) which consists of digested blood.

They then enter the environment and make cocoons out of fibers from carpet and blankets. Once in their pupae stage, they are resistant to freezing, drying and insecticides. They can stay this way for months. When they are ready to hatch, they will begin feeding on your pet within a few hours.

This entire life cycle can be completed in as few as three weeks.

Fleas cause many problems

Not only will fleas make your pets itchy, they also can cause serious skin conditions such as infections and hair loss. They also can cause flea allergy dermatitis if your pet is allergic to the flea’s saliva.

On top of skin conditions, they can transmit bacteria and tapeworms to your pet.

Indoor-only pets

Just because your pet lives indoors only, does not mean that they won’t get fleas. In fact, the most common pets that I am finding fleas in are the indoor-only pets because their owners think that they don’t need a flea preventative.

Fleas thrive all winter long on wildlife and pets that are not on a preventative. The fleas can be in the environment and then come into your home on clothing and shoes. From there, they will set up shop on your unprotected animal and enjoy the warm temperatures of your home. They don’t even care if you have only hard wood surfaces – they will jump off your pets when they are full and make a home in the cracks between the boards.

Never seen a flea on my pet

Many times, our pets are very good at grooming the fleas away after they have been bitten. Fleas will also jump off the pet to hang out in their bedding.

Another reason that fleas evade our eye, is because as our pets are grooming, they oftentimes swallow the fleas. This results in potential tapeworm infections as well.

How we know that your pet has fleas even if we don’t see a flea itself? It’s by seeing “flea dirt.”

Flea dirt is actually flea poop that looks like little black specks in your pet’s hair coat – especially by their tail and on their belly. If your pet has flea dirt on them, there are fleas in your home.

Flea recommendations

We recommend year-round flea prevention with a prescription product. Not all flea preventatives are created equal, and many are not effective. You get what you pay for.

If your pet has fleas, you will need to get rid of them in your home as well as on your pet. Call your veterinarian for details on how to get rid of fleas and keep them away.

The Vet Report is provided in conjunction with Prairie View Veterinary Clinic with locations in Miller, Redfield, Wessington Springs and Highmore, S.D. Questions? Send an email to owner Eric Knock, DVM, at reknock@venturecomm.net or write 321 E. 14th St., Miller, SD 57362.

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