Fleas where do they come from?
The most common flea found on the dog is a cat
flea (Ctenocephalides felis), The easiest way your dog gets fleas is from
newly developed adult fleas in pupae in your house. Adult fleas live and
feed on animals but the female lays eggs which fall off into the
environment, under favourable conditions these eggs develop first into
larvae and then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas which lie in wait
for a suitable host. Modern carpeted, centrally heated homes provide ideal
conditions for the year round development of fleas. The highest numbers of
"flea eggs", larvae and pupae will be found in areas in the house where pets
spend most time such as their beds, the furniture and so forth.
Even though fleas may be in your
house you probably won't see them; the eggs are too small to see without
magnification and the larvae which are just visible migrate deep down into
carpets, furniture or cracks in floors away from the light.
The flea life cycle
Although you are only able to see
the adult flea, there are actually four stages of the life cycle. The adult
flea constitutes only about 5% of the entire flea population if you consider
all four stages of the life cycle.
Flea eggs are
pearly white and about ½ mm long. Fleas lay their eggs on the animal, but
the eggs fall off into the environment. The eggs make up 50% of the flea
population. They hatch into larvae in one to ten days, depending on
temperature and humidity
are slender and about 2-5mm long. They feed on organic debris found in their
environment and on adult flea faeces, they avoid direct sunlight and move
actively deep into the carpet. They live for 5-11 days and then pupate.
Moisture is essential for the survival of these immature stages of the flea.
Larvae survive best in the protected environment of carpet or in cracks
between hardwood floors. They thrive in warm conditions.
Flea pupae are
produced by the mature larvae inside a cocoon, the pupae live in warm humid
conditions, pupae become adult fleas in 5-10 days. However, the adults do
not emerge from the cocoon unless stimulated by vibration, carbon dioxide,
or heat. Pre-emerged adult fleas can survive up to 140 days inside the
cocoon, during this time they are resistant to insecticides applied to their
environment. Because of this adult fleas may continue to emerge into the
environment for up to 3 months following the application of insecticides.
Adult fleas once
they emerge from the cocoon immediately seeks a host because it must have a
blood meal within a few days to survive. It is attracted to people and pets
by body heat, movement and exhaled carbon dioxide. It seeks light, which
means that it migrates to the surface of the carpet in its search to find a
passing host. Following the first blood meal the female flea begins egg
production within 2 days
can continue for as long as 100 days, which means that a single flea can
produce thousands of eggs. The entire life cycle (adult
flea - egg - larva - pupa - adult) can be
completed in 14-21 days with the optimum temperature and humidity conditions
How do fleas affect my dog?
If untreated the female flea
will continue to take blood for several weeks. During which time, she will
consume about 15 times her body weight in blood. Although the male fleas do
not take as much blood, they too contribute to significant blood loss from
the host animal. This can lead to anaemia in sick or very young animals.
Many animals live with fleas but show minimal signs, but some animals become
allergic to flea bites. If this happens the animal becomes very itchy and
can develop skin disease.
The flea acts as the intermediate host for the tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum).
Tapeworm eggs which are shed within tapeworm segments in the animal faeces
are eaten by flea larvae which develop into infected fleas. Animals become
infested by eating infected fleas during grooming.
Any animal with fleas is likely
therefore to also have a tapeworm infestation.
Read my page about Worms and your dog.
Ticks are often too tiny to be seen, they attach themselves to pets and feed
until they are engorged. Worse yet ticks carry diseases that can cause
serious health problems for pets.
Tick life cycle
Depending on its size, the
hardy life cycle of a tick can range from a few months to two years. Each
stage in a ticks development requires a blood meal in order that the tick
can reach the next stage. Some species can survive for years without
Egg Stage Ticks
lay eggs in secluded areas of dense vegitation that are several inches high.
The eggs take approx two weeks to hatch. Adult females of some tick species
lay about 100 eggs at a time whilst others can lay between 3000 - 6000 per
Larval Stage After
hatching, the larvae move into grass or shrubs in search of their first
blood meal. If you or your pet pass by they attach themselves and crawl
upwards looking for an area of skin to feed from.
After the first blood meal the larvae moult into their
nymph stage and begin searching for their next host. Nymphs are tiny and
often go undetected, increasing the chance of disease transmission.
Adult Stage The
adult female feeds for 8-12 days, increasing its weight 100 times, whilst
feeding and still on the host the female will mate, fall off and lay her egg
mass in a secluded place - beginning the life cycle again.
The earlier you detect a tick bite
the better signs to look for include Fever - Lameness - Loss of Appitite -
Sudden onset of Pain in pets legs or body - Arthritis or swelling in pets
joints - Lethargy or Depression - Coughs.
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a tick contact your veterinarian
immediately - never try to pull a feeding tick
away from your pet. If an engorged tick falls off place into airtight
container with tweezers and seek veterinary advice.