It's August, and we're smack dab in the middle of summer. That also means flea season is upon us, so if you're a pet owner, you ought to be on high alert for itchy cats and dogs. Not sure what all the fuss is about? Click through for all you need to know about what fleas are, what they do to pets, and how to keep them away from your animals and your home.
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FLEAS ARE DIFFERENT FROM TICKS
While both are pet-loving parasites that suck blood, fleas and ticks are quite different from each other. Fleas are insects and ticks are arachnids. 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. (Source)
FLEAS EXIST THROUGHOUT THE U.S. IN ALL CLIMATES
Fleas are rampant in the United States. While they prefer warm, humid conditions, they can exist in cool temperatures, thus making them a problem throughout the year. The peak of flea season is midsummer to early fall. (Source)
FLEAS CARRY VARIOUS BACTERIA AND DISEASE
Fleas can cause the following illnesses:
Plague: This infectious disease is best known for killing a third of Europeans during the Middle Ages. Today, scientists know that the endemic was spread by fleas. The plague is still around today. Cats and dogs can become infected through flea bites.
Cat scratch disease: This disease doesn't harm cats, but it is dangerous to their human owners. People infected with CSD through their cats can suffer a weakened immune system causing fever, headaches and fatigue.
Tapeworms: Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs, which hatch inside the body of a host, including cats and dogs. Once hatched, a tapeworm attaches itself to its host's intestine.
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. The itching could indicate flea allergy dermatitis.
Hemobartonellosis: Typically, this disease is transmitted through ticks, but fleas can also carry it. Hemobartonellosis is more likely to affect dogs than cats, and sometimes necessitates a splenectomy. (Source)
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF KINDS OF FLEAS
There are more than 2,000 flea species. 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 jump to high heights and feed on the blood of their hosts. (Source)
FLEAS CAN BITE UP TO 500 TIMES A DAY
Fleas are good at what they do. While feasting on your pet, they can suck more than their weight in blood. And female fleas don't stop there. They'll also lay hundreds of eggs on your pet before they leave. (Source)
CITRUS REPELS FLEAS
Use freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice on your dog's fur if you see any fleas. Not only will citrus keep the fleas away, but it will also make your dog smell fresh. (Source)
FLEAS CAN CAN SURVIVE (AND THRIVE) INDOORS
If a flea clings onto a dog or cat, and that pet enters your home, the flea can survive. Once infestation has been established, fleas can sustain themselves indoors. If you find fleas in your home, it is important to deep-clean everything, from your floors and rugs to your bedsheets and clothing. (Source)
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 groin areas are two popular spots where you can find fleas. Don't forget to check the ears, belly and the base of the tail too. (Source)
Next: Tick Awareness 101
PREVENTATIVE CARE IS NECESSARY TO KEEP FLEAS AWAY
Every pet is susceptible to fleas, but preventative care is easy, safe and effective. There are many products that provide complete flea control, including oral and topical medications. Additionally, regular grooming and spot checks are crucial for keeping cats and dogs free of fleas. (Source)