Dog fleas are tough little critters which not only infect your dog but can also infect your house. This is due primarily to their four-stage lifecycle.
Life Cycle Of Dog Fleas
It all begins when your dog picks up dog flea eggs. The dog comes into your house and some of these eggs will stay on it, while others fall off, which can spread these noxious intruders throughout your home.
The flea eggs, which are the first stage of a flea’s life, soon develop into larvae, which is the second stage of its life cycle. These small, wormlike creatures feed on flea feces. They will most likely stay deeply hidden from view – for example, in the bottom layer of your carpeting, in pet bedding or under furniture.
As dog flea larvae lay hidden, they feed and grow into pupae. Flea pupae develop a silk-like cocoon, which is extremely resilient. The pupae can live inside this protective shell for as long as a year without feeding. The shell protects the pupae from even some of the strongest flea defenses. This is why that, just when you think you’ve totally eliminated these pests, they seem to come back out of nowhere. Fleas are sensitive to vibrations and when they sense one, they will emerge to feed and mature into adult fleas. This takes nearly 3 weeks and adult fleas will live for approximately 25 days.
Dog Flea Health Issues
Fleas cannot only drive your dog crazy, they can be health issues. For example, if the dog is constantly scratching itself, it can literally scratch off its fur in patches. It can also develop a condition called allergic dermatitis.
Even worse than this, ingesting a dog flea can cause the dog to develop a tapeworm. This happens if the flea itself has a tapeworm infection. In this case, when the dog ingests the flea – for example, when cleaning itself – the dog flea is digested and the tiny tapeworm is released into the dog’s system. This minuscule tapeworm will eventually grow into an adult tapeworm that can be as long as 3-4 inches. You can sometimes spot tapeworms in your dog feces or around is anus. Worse yet, you might find a tapeworm lying on your favorite chair or sofa when the dog gets up and moves away.
If you do find that your dog has become tapeworm infected, you can cure the dog by giving it a dewormer. However, most of the dewormers you find at the grocery or pet store are not effective against tapeworms in dogs. Fortunately, there are two dewormers available designed specifically to kill tapeworms. They are Droncit and D-Worm, both of which are available only by prescription from your vet. Or you can choose a broad-spectrum dewormer such as Sentinel or Drontal Plus, both of which will also kill many other types of dog worms.
Dog Fleas And Humans
Fleas are little bloodsucking parasites that feed on livestock, pets and even humans. They can jump distances up to 100 times their body length, using their legs and a spring-like mechanism in their bodies. This means that if we could jump like fleas, the Olympic broad jump record would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 feet. Just imagine.
Dog Fleas And Disease
Fleas can cause a number of both veterinary and medical problems. They can bite and be gone before you even know it. The bites themselves can be irritating and can become inflamed or swollen. For that matter, fleabites are the most common form of insect bites we humans experience.
If you do get a fleabite, it’s going to itch like there was no tomorrow and you will be scratching like crazy. When you do scratch it, you can then develop a secondary infection. For that matter, some flea species are known to transmit such diseases as murine typhus, the plague, bubonic plague, pneumonic plague and flea-borne typhus.
Getting Rid Of Dog Fleas
If you find your house has been flea infested, you will need two products – an adulticide and an insect growth inhibitor. The adulticide will do as you might imagine – it kills adult fleas. While the growth` inhibitor interrupts the developmental states of the pest’s life cycle so that it can’t reproduce. There are foggers – or bombs – available at your local pet store. These types of products are good for the surfaces of chairs, sofas, etc., but won’t reach areas under your furniture or beneath couch pillows, and into floor cracks.
A second way to rid your house of fleas is with a flea spray, which is probably best for on-home use. The advantage of these products is that they can be sprayed directly onto any area where there is a problem – under furniture, on pet beds, behind curtains and the like.
The third alternative is powders and dusts. Some flea powders can be sprinkled onto your carpets or bedding. These powders help stop the development of pupae. If you choose a powder, look carefully at its ingredients. Look for a pyrethroid. This insecticide acts on the flea’s central nervous system and is relatively safe.
Finally, one of your best weapons against a dog flea infestation is your vacuum cleaner. After you apply one of these treatments, vacuum thoroughly the treated areas. Pay a lot of attention to areas under furniture, along wallboards, in and around throw and area rugs, cracks in the floor and the floor close to pet bedding.
Dog fleas can pose a health hazard for both pets and humans. But if you monitor your dog and your home carefully, you will spot these noxious pests early on, and can then jump on the problem and rid yourself of the fleas before they can become really dangerous.