Fleas are a frustrating external parasite that can affect our beloved pets. There are thousands of flea species in the world. There is one species that affects pets and it can cause some serious health problems for you and your pets.

Flea life cycle for dogs, Powell, Ohio vet for flea treatment

The Flea has 4 stages to its life cycle: Egg, larval, pupal and adult stages.  The eggs are laid by the adult flea while on the pet and may fall off into the pet’s environment into your home. Then the larvae hatch from the eggs and develop in a pet’s environment by feeding on adult flea feces (i.e. digested blood). Larvae eventually become pupae. Pupae are resistant to freezing, drying, and insecticides, and can lie dormant for months. These pupae then become adult fleas.

Fleas feed by sucking on blood. That blood loss, if chronic, can lead to anemia. If your pet has a large parasite burden and/or is young or unhealthy they can become anemic quickly. Through this feeding on blood, fleas can transmit infections and parasites, such as Bartonella and tapeworms.

Fleas can cause severe skin reaction, irritation and infection. Some pets have an aggregated reaction to fleas, called a flea allergy dermatitis, and need more intense treatment to control the itch.

Fleas can still get on your pets that are indoors only. I see it all the time in practice. Indoor cats especially get fleas and that is because fleas are crafty and get brought into the environment of the cat. Then they thrive in the well-regulated temperature of the home and have a constant food source which is unfortunately the unprotected pet.

There are many myths around fleas and flea control. Do not be “sucked” in by the myths. As veterinarians we are educated in the most current studies and treatments that work and are safe to control fleas for your pet.

Sarah C. Grandominico, DVM
Best Friends Veterinary Hospital
Powell, OH  43065