Fleas are the most common external parasite found on our dogs and cats, and because the optimum environment for flea development is between 65-80F with high humidity, fleas are considered a year-round nuisance in Florida. An adult female flea will start producing eggs often within the first 36 hours of jumping on your dog or cat, and can continue to produce up to 50 eggs per day for the next 3 months of its life. In addition to causing itchiness, fleas also have the potential to carry and spread other diseases such as tapeworms and bartonella. What all of this means for your pet is that even a single missed dose of flea prevention can result in an infestation of fleas in your home and the possible spread of illness to you and your pet. What’s worse is that once the fleas have become established in the home environment it may take up to 3-4 months of consistent treatment to get the infestation under control. The good news is that there are several great options for flea prevention and the veterinarians and veterinary staff at West Park Animal Hospital can work with you to find the best one for each of your four-legged family members. Make sure to discuss all of the pets in your household with your veterinarians, because even one untreated animal can keep the flea’s life cycle going and cause problems for your other pets.
Many pet parents don’t believe their dog or cat can have fleas. Unfortunately, for some of our dogs and cats that have flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). These patients will itch and scratch uncontrollably in response to a single flea. Our veterinarians and veterinary staff pay special attention when looking for flea allergy as it can be so stressful for our pets. In these cases, you often will never see the flea that is causing your dog or cat so much trouble. When your pet has flea allergy dermatitis it is even more important to be very vigilant about giving your flea preventative as prescribed. Some pets with this disease have such severe symptoms that they have to be on two types of flea prevention throughout the year.
True or False
False: Pets that are especially sensitive to flea bites will quickly bite or chew to remove the offending flea from their skin, making it very difficult to find fleas on your pet unless you are constantly checking with a fine tooth comb. This is especially true in cats.
False: The type of flea that most commonly affects our dogs and cats, Ctenocephalides, will preferentially choose cats and dogs as hosts over people. People are likely to be bitten only once the flea infestation has become significant.
True: While there are treatments to kill flea adults, larvae and eggs, there are no effective treatments to kill flea pupae. Because pupae can remain dormant for up to 1 year before hatching, it is important to consistently treat your pet and environment after an infestation to help get the flea population under control.
True: Both dogs and cats can develop allergies to flea saliva, which will become triggered when the flea bites the affected pet. As little as 1-2 flea bites can create severe skin disease in allergic pets.