A flea infestation can be a minor nightmare for a pet owner, but responsible pet owners can keep them away without too much trouble. While keeping your pet and home clear of fleas is generally simple, there are still many things people do not know about these bloodsucking parasites. Learn these 11 facts about fleas to keep your pet healthy and itch-free.
1. Fleas are different from ticks.
While both are extremely annoying pet-loving parasites that suck blood, fleas and ticks are quite different from one another. Fleas are insects, while ticks are arachnids (more closely related to spiders). Fleas have fewer hosts, while ticks can live off of a number of different animals, from birds to cattle. Fleas live for around 100 days, while a tick's life can vary from a few weeks to three years. Fleas can lay 20 to 40 eggs per day, while ticks can lay thousands at one time. Fleas prefer warm temperatures, while ticks can survive in freezing temperatures. Both, however, can transmit deadly diseases to your pet. (Cesar Milan)
2. Fleas exists throughout the country, during all seasons.
There are more than 2,000 species of fleas. They are rampant in the United States. While they prefer warm, humid conditions, they can exist in cool temperatures, thus making them a big problem throughout the year. Still, they are typically the worst during mid to late summer and early fall. (Vetstreet)
3. Fleas can carry different kinds of bacteria and diseases.
Fleas have been known to cause the following diseases:
- Plague: While this disease is known for killing a third of the European population during the Middle Ages, it is still around, affecting your pets. Your cat or dog can be infected with this disease by being bitten by a flea that has taken a bite out of a rabid wild animal.
–Cat scratch disease: This disease may not cause cats any harm, but it is dangerous to their human owners. Humans who are infected with CSD by their feline friends can suffer a weakened immune system causing fever, headaches and fatigue.
–Tapeworms: Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs, which can hatch inside the body of a host. The tapeworm can then attach itself to the pet's intestines.
–Flea allergy dermatitis: If you notice your dog licking or scratching a "hot spot," be sure to bring the dog to a vet as soon as possible. This could be an indicator for this extremely itchy disease.
–Hemobartonellosis: Typically, this disease is transmitted through ticks, but it can also be carried by fleas. Dogs are more likely to be affected by the disease, sometimes having to get their spleen removed because of it. (PetcareRX)
4. There are thousands of kinds of fleas.
All fleas are not alike. In fact, there are over 2,000 species of fleas, from cow fleas to cat fleas. They vary around the world, but some are more common than others, especially those that affect your pets. While they are all different, they feed, grow and multiply in the same manner. In other words, they all hop to high heights and feed on the blood of their hosts. (Parasitic Pets)
5. Fleas can bite up to 400 times a day.
Fleas are good at what they do, and when they start, there's no stopping them. During their nonstop feast, they can suck more than their weight in blood from your pet's body. What's more is that a female flea will not stop there. She'll then lay hundreds of eggs on your pet before she goes. (FDA)
6. Fleas are expert jumpers.
Fleas are not only good biters, but they're excellent jumpers too. Fleas can jump a distance that measures 150 times their own size. They can also jump 30,000 times without stopping. (American Animal Hospital Association)
7. Fleas are known to be repelled by citrus.
Fleas are discouraged by any sort of citrus. Use freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice on your dog's fur if you see any fleas. Not only will this keep the fleas away, it'll also make your dog smell fresh and clean. (PetMD)
8. Fleas can also be found indoors.
A commonly held belief is that fleas cannot thrive indoors. This is untrue. If a flea clings onto a dog or cat, and that pet enters your home, that flea can survive. Once infestation has been established, the fleas can sustain indoors. If you find fleas in your home, it is important to do a deep clean, from your floors and rugs to your bedsheets and clothing. (Vetstreet)
9. Fleas love warm areas on your pet's body.
Once fleas have made their way onto your pet, they will hide in the warmest parts of its body. The armpits and the groin areas are two popular areas where you can find fleas on a dog's body. Don't forget to also check the ears, belly and the base of the tail. (PetMD)
10. Preventative care is necessary to keep fleas away.
Every pet is susceptible to fleas, but preventative care is easy, safe and effective. There are numerous products that can provide complete flea and tick control in your pet, including oral tablets and topical medications. In addition to putting your pet on flea medication, regular spot checks and grooming are crucial to keeping dogs and cats free of fleas and ticks. (Vetstreet)
Next: 6 Most Common Fleas
11. Keeping your house and yard clean and flea-free is important.
As mentioned earlier, although fleas come from the outdoors, they have the ability to survive indoors. Once they've made it into your home, they can spread all over, especially to the areas where your pet spends most of his or her time. This most likely includes couches and beds. If you suspect that there are fleas in your house, clean your entire house from top to bottom. Vacuum rugs, throw out old pet bedding and wash sheets or clothing that may have touched your flea-infested pet at one time or another. It's not just about keeping your pet clean, but also about maintaining a pristine environment. (Vetstreet)