Taking the short road
Flea prevention eliminates extensive treatment
By Dr. Gerald Bellin, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
A menace to our pets and a very difficult thing to eliminate – what are you talking about, you may ask – Fleas!
These little bugs are very difficult to remove from the environment and our furry friends, if we do not prevent them in the beginning.
Why am I talking about fleas? Well, because they are not gone as you would expect; they are around even in the winter. I had two severe cases this past week in the clinic.
So, how do your pets get fleas?
Fleas are transmitted from animal to animal, either directly or indirectly, from the ground or nests of animals that have fleas. As winter approaches, fleas are always looking for a source of heat and food when they lose their host animal; these host animals may be rabbits, squirrels, birds, and other outside rodents.
Bunnies are a common culprit. They live in the bushes or under the deck, and our pets find their nest and are exposed and infected with fleas.
A little known fact: Fleas are small insects able to jump up to 1 ½ feet or more than 200 times their body length. They usually will not jump this distance because it takes a great deal of energy for them. They will usually walk around and take small hops on the same animal. When we are trying to catch them in the hair coat is when we may see the big jump, or if a different animal is sensed nearby. Fleas are not able to fly, so jumping is their mode of getting to other animals.
Once fleas have obtained a host, they will feed on their blood. The bite of a flea is usually the cause of extensive itchiness and hair loss. Sometimes even sores all over their body. These sores lead to infection and even more itching for the pet. Also, once fed, they continue on the life cycle. There are four stages in the life cycle-the eggs, larvae, pupae (cocoon) and the adults. Pupal forms can live in the environment for up to 9-10 months with out eating a blood meal. Another amazing fact is a single flea will produce 600 eggs a month and those eggs can be adults and ready to produce 600 eggs in 12 more days. Resulting in more than 80,000 eggs a month. Sounds like a major problem right?
The best way to prevent the problem is with prevention from your veterinarian. However, once they are a problem, the key is to initiate a long-term treatment that could take 4-9 months to eliminate your little house guests. Staring with preventive treatment to remove the adults and good cleaning multiple times a week to clean up the environment of the eggs, cocoons and larvae.
Remember to contact your veterinarian if you have questions on fleas.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.