What jumps really high and moves quickly – often making them tough to find on your pet? Fleas! And although southern Alberta doesn’t have a serious flea infestation due to our low humidity and cold winters, they do exist and can certainly be a nuisance.
- There are over 1900 flea species in the world! We are concerned with only one: the cat flea.
- The adults live, feed and mate on our pets and a female can lay up to 40 eggs per day.
- Eggs fall into the environment where they eventually mature into larvae, pupae and then adults.
- The pupae stage can remain dormant for many months as it waits for the right time to emerge.
- A newly hatched adult needs to jump onto a host to complete their life cycle and once its fed will live about 4-6 weeks.
- The average time period from egg to adult is about 3 weeks under ideal conditions but can be up to a year.
What effect does a flea have on my pet other than being a nuisance? Pets can have Flea Allergic Dermatitis, typically fleas do not make animals itchy unless there is a flea bite allergy! They act as the intermediate host for the common tapeworm so if your pet has fleas they may also have intestinal parasites as well. In the most severe cases they cause flea anaemia which means puppies and kittens can lose so much blood that they don’t have enough red blood cells.
How do you get rid of fleas? Over the counter topical insecticides, such as powders or shampoos found in pet stores and big box stores, may have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours, killing only fleas that are on your pet at the time of application. You may see fleas again the next day! Be aware that not all flea collars are equal and may not be effective. They may only treat the area immediately around the collar. More effective and typically easier to apply products with longer residual effects are available from your veterinarian. These can be used as part of the treatment or simply applied once a month during flea season as a preventive, roughly springtime into the fall. In southern Alberta, because of our climate, treating the environment will depend with each individual case.