All About Fleas
If you suspect that your dog has fleas let us know so that we may treat your dog with precautions for the grooming process.
What are fleas?
Fleas are reddish brown parasitic flightless insects that feed on the blood of its host animal. They are external parasites and are one of the greatest jumpers in relation to body size in the animal kingdom.
What are the signs of a flea infestation on your dog?
• Scratching caused by itching is an early sign that your dog may have fleas.
• Dog fleas will bite humans while in the process of looking for a new host and you may all of a sudden begin getting bites. One may find red marks in areas of the bites on you and your dog.
• Reddish brown colored flecks of dirt on your dog. During flea infestations the flea’s fecal matter, commonly called “flea dirt,” may be visible. The flea dirt is composed of digested blood. One way to test if it is “flea dirt” is take a white paper towel and wet it with water. Place some of the “flea dirt” on this paper towel. If the small flecks turn blood red this is usually a sure sign that your dog has fleas.
• You may see small insects crawling in and out of the fur on your dog.
Life cycle of the flea
After a flea jumps onto your dog it will lay eggs. Fleas lay eggs in clutches of up to 50 eggs onto the host dog each day. The eggs eventually fall off of your to dog and hatch in two to five days in warmer temperatures or after about two weeks in cooler temperatures.
After hatching the flea larvae feed on dirt, dust, adult flea fecal matter, and any other organic material available. During this stage they are blind and avoid light. The larvae stay hidden in cracks and crevices to continue feeding and development. This stage lasts 8 to 15 days.
The larvae grow to the stage where they weave a cocoon to pupate. They develop into adults during this time. Once a pupa has developed into an adult flea, it will stay in the cocoon until an external stimulus occurs. These stimuli can include vibrations from movement or sounds, warmer temperatures and increased humidity, or increased carbon dioxide levels from the breath of a mammal. Fleas can also overwinter during this stage.
Once the adult fleas emerge from the cocoon they will begin looking for a host from which to feed.
Adult female fleas can lay up to 5000 eggs during a lifespan.
Fleas prefer warm moist weather and seem to peak in numbers in the Cincinnati area in late summer and early fall. The whole life cycle in the right conditions can occur in as little as 18 days.