These common external parasites are one of the more obvious parasites we see on our pets. Fleas are tiny insects (about the size of the eye of a sewing needle) that live on warm-blooded animals and feed off their blood. Fleas are often thought of as an annoyance and not as a serious threat but fleas were responsible for spreading the bubonic plague, a bacterial infection that decimated half the world’s human population in the 14th century! Though the fleas we see on our pets in Ontario don’t usually cause disease directly, fleas are pervasive and insidious, and their constant feeding can cause serious conditions in our pets.
Once a female flea feeds from an animal, she begins to lay eggs, which also shed in the environment, within 36-48 hours. On average, females lay 50 eggs per day, which can hatch in as little as two days. To put this all into perspective, one flea can bite and feed up to 400 times each day and a heavy infestation on a kitten could result in 10% blood loss in one day! Fleas also cause other conditions, like flea dermatitis (a common allergic reaction on the skin to flea saliva), fur/hair loss, infection, and anemia. As you can conclude, fleas aren’t so harmless after all! These parasites are also very hardy, with the ability to live several months without feeding. Flea eggs may also remain dormant in our pets’ environments, attaching to carpet, curtains, bedding, and other fabric for long periods of time. Their staying power makes them difficult to eradicate, which is why preventive treatments are far superior to dealing with an active infestation.
Fleas are highly contagious among animals. If your pet comes into contact with an animal that has fleas, it is very likely they will become infested, unless preventive measures are taken. The most common signs your pet has fleas are general itchiness, black specks (flea feces) in your pet’s coat, red bumps on your furry companion’s skin, and visible bugs in your pet’s coat. Fleas tend to become very active in warmer weather; spring, summer, and fall are all peak flea seasons. There are many flea treatments available on the market. Veterinary flea prevention and treatments we carry are designed with the right combination of safe ingredients to prevent and treat flea infestations without adversely affecting our pets. Topical treatments tend to be superior, as fleas are killed on contact but there are chewable options available that are also effective. Many veterinary flea products also have the added benefit of controlling other common parasitic infections. Give us a call today to learn more about how to protect your pet