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What Fleas Can Mean for Your Pet

Bug Lady posted this on Oct 4, 2016

Fleas can be a recurring nuisance to homeowners, but fleas can be more than annoying to your pet. Pets can develop serious conditions spurred by fleas in their living environment. In this article, we discuss how fleas can affect your pets, and the importance of keeping  your home and pet flea free.

Fleas have a number of different stages of their life cycle which can make them hard to identify and treat; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. They can remain dormant for months, laying in wait for a warm blooded host to pass by. The most common household flea is the cat flea, but they don’t mind living on your dog as well.

Fleas can be carriers of dog tape worms, an intestinal parasite. The parasite can live in the intestinal tracts of dogs, cats, and sometimes humans. The tapeworms can have up to 200 body segments and grow to a foot in length. These intestinal parasites can be identified by inspecting the anus and the feces of the animal. The body segments of the tape worm will often detach from the main body and be expelled this way. They are opaque white or pinkish colored when fresh, or yellow or off white if they are dried. The newly expelled segments will wriggle and stretch and be easily identified. Once they are dry, the sacs take on the shape of rice. The sacs contain eggs, and frequently can be found attached to the hairs around the anus of the animal.

It is these sacs that are shed onto bedding or the animal’s environment and then ingested by fleas. The flea is then eaten by an animal, often times during grooming. The tape worm then matures into the adult tape worm, and the cycle begins again. Occasionally, these infected fleas have been ingested by small children. If left untreated, tape worms cause debilitation, weight loss and stomach irritation for your pet. If you don’t kill the fleas that are infected within your pets environment, the cycle will continue indefinitely.

Another serious pet problem caused by fleas is flea allergies. Pets that are allergic to fleas will often suffer lesions, loss of hair, thickening of the skin, and dermatitis. The allergic reaction is caused when the animal is infected by the saliva of the flea during feeding. The allergic pet will be very uncomfortable and itchy. The ensuing scratching by the pet is what often causes lesions. If your pet is allergic to fleas, look for hair loss often times around the tail and back area, raised, reddened and crusted skin, or pimple like bumps. There are test available from your veterinarian to rule out other possible allergens.

Fleas are not just aggravating for your pet, they can cause serious health conditions that significantly reduce your pet’s quality of life. There are numerous internal and topical treatments available for your pet, but it is necessary to also treat your home environment to stop the cycle of fleas. Due to the life cycle of fleas, treatment steps should be repeated within 14 days to kill fleas in each of their life cycles. Visit our other articles concerning home treatment for fleas.

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