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Good or Bad? Fleas on dogs and cats

photo of 3 dogs scratching for fleas | Whitworth Animal ClinicProtect your pet to avoid suffering

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the answer to this question. Fleas are bad and they are everywhere. In fact, worldwide there are over 2,000 species of fleas. North America is home to more than 300 varieties of the pests. It’s important to treat your pets and be vigilant about keeping their surroundings, the yard and house, protected from infestations.

Tiny vampires

Fleas are small, wingless insects that have siphon-like mouthparts. They thrive on blood. Each type of flea has a preferred host, so there are dog flea and cat flea species. In other words, a flea is not a flea except when it comes to one goal: blood sucking. Fleas generally don’t feed on humans, but they will if there is no other host.

Egg-laying machines

The female lays eggs 24-36 hours after her first blood meal. A flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which is equal to its body weight. It can lay this many eggs because fleas suck up 15 times their body weight in blood daily. For up to 3 months, fleas are egg-laying machines. As your pet walks around the house and yard, the eggs are dispersed everywhere. That is a recipe for a flea infestation of epic proportions.

Pain and suffering

When fleas attack your pet, it scratches, bites and licks the irritated area. A constant barrage of the flea bite-itching/scratching/biting cycle can lead to scabs and scarring. Some dogs are allergic to flea bites. Even one bite can cause swelling and itching. Doctors call this “allergy dermatitis” or “parasitic dermatitis.” All this irritation can cause infection and allow harmful bacteria to invade.

Fleas Cause Tapeworms

Another reason to be diligent about flea protection is the tapeworm. Fleas are the intermediate hosts for tapeworms. If your pet is grooming itself or biting at fleas, it could ingest a flea. Not all fleas become tapeworms, but it only takes one to get a tapeworm infestation started. Getting a handle on tapeworms in dogs and cats includes flea control and deworming medication. Regular visits to Dr. Whitworth will include testing, diagnosis, and treatment for worms of all kinds.

Fleas can, literally, suck the life out of a pet

A heavy infestation of fleas can literally suck the life out of your pet. Anemia, which can be dangerous, results when the flea attack causes a dangerous drop in the pet’s red blood count. The condition can be treated with blood transfusions. It’s critical to keep fleas off pets with a regular flea control program.

Fleas carry germs

Hugging a flea-ridden pet is not a good idea. Fleas carry germs and lots of fleas carry lots of germs. Considering that fleas and ticks can also transmit diseases to humans, removing fleas and keeping your dog or cat comfortable and flea free is a good goal for many reasons.

Remember the yard

Exterminators provide flea treatments for the yard. Fleas love the South because of its high humidity. They thrive in shady areas. Treating the yard will help break the life cycle of pesky fleas.

Regular vet visits

If you think your pet is suffering from a flea-bite allergy, tapeworms, or an infestation of fleas, make an appointment at the Whitworth Animal Clinic today. Learn what precautions you can take to keep fleas at bay.

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