Fleas and Pets

Most people believe that when fall comes, the fleas are gone.  This is far from the truth.  In actuality, the temperature outside starts to drop and we see more fleas migrating indoors to the warmth.  We get an abundant number of calls this time of year for fleas.

Flea Lifecycle

A flea will lay eggs daily for its 4-6 week life span.  The eggs will fall off the pet and into environment (cracks, carpets,).  The eggs then hatch into larvae.  The larvae will feed off of the flea dirt that also falls off of the pet.  From egg to Larvae can take at least 9 days or more.  Larva then spin a cocoon and are now called pupae.   Pupae are sticky and virtually indestructible.  During this stage they are developing into the adult flea.  Pupae can lay dormant in this stage for up to a year waiting for conditions to be perfect.  Warm temperatures, vibrations, carbon dioxide) will cause pupae to hatch.  This is why when people leave an environment for a period of time and come back, develop an outbreak  (ie, close the cottage for winter and return in spring).  Bingo Fleas.

Fleas can cause:

  • Flea Allergic Dermatitis
  • Flea Anemia
  • Feline Infectious Anemia (a life-threatening blood parasite carried by fleas)
  • Cat Scratch Fever/Bartonellosis (does not make the cat sick but the infected cat can make a person sick)
  • Common Tapeworm infection

Treating fleas or preventing fleas starts with a good product.  You can choose to use over the counter pet store products.  Success with flea treatment with these products and be frustrating and extremely lengthy.  You also have to be very conscious of what the ingredients are as permethrin-containing products are toxic for cats and can potentially cause death in the cat.

If you live in an apartment setting, it may be reasonable to place your pet on year long flea prevention products as there is a higher risk of your pet picking up fleas and bringing them into the environment.

Your veterinarian can help and provide the appropriate flea prevention/treatment product for your pet as well as products for the environment.

Michelle RVT