If you have a cat or dog, fleas can become an issue seemingly overnight. Fleas flourish in moist and warm environments. They jump on your cat or dog when you take him or her outside and your pet's warm body becomes their home and blood becomes their main food source.
Controlling fleas is essential not only to your pet's happieness, but to the comfort and sanitation of your home as well.They make you and your pet itchy and uncomfortable and they quickly spread all over the house. Flea saliva contains a softening agent that makes the skin easier to penetrate for feeding purposes. The saliva is the culprit for all the irritating itchiness. Flea collars and baths may help temporarily, but in order to effectively eradicate fleas and keep them under control there are some things you should know about the flea cycle.
- The Flea Life Cycle
There are four stages in a flea's life cycle. It starts with an egg, then moves on to the larva, pupa and adult stages. The cycle can last anywhere from about two weeks to several months contingent on the environmental provisions. An adult flea can lay as many as 50 eggs each day. Flea eggs have no adhesive qualities (as do the eggs of some other parasites), so they tend to fall from the animal onto the ground, carpet, etc.
When the eggs hatches, which may be twodays to three or four weeks after it is laid, the larva emerges. It can stay in the larva stage for about 18 days before it spins a cocoon and enters the pupa stage. The flea can remain inthe pupa for as little as three days or for as long as a year or more. Ideal conditions, i.e. high temperatures, humdity and presence of a host, will draw the flea out of the cocoon faster.
The flea cycle in its entirety can be completed as quickly as within two weeks, or it can be streched out over the cource of two years. This variance in length can make it very difficult to get rid of them once a problem arises. For this reason, it is extremely important to treat your pet effectively and efficiently.
A flea bath is good a place to start to simply get rid of the adult fleas that are already present on your pet. However, this type of treatment is not enough to stop the flea cycle. A spot-on treatment or oral medication should follow and should be administerd as often as directed by your veterinarian.
Advantage, Advantix, Advocate all made by Bayer), Frontline (made by Merial) are spot-on treatments. They are applied between the canine or felines shoulder blades and are effective for one month at a time. Spot-on treatments kill adult fleas and some inhibit larval emergence from the egg and progression. Advantix is also waterproof and kils several other pests in addition to fleas, like ticks, lice, mosquitoes and stable flies. Advocte (also called Advantage Multi in some areas) is a combination flea control and heatworm prevention topical medication.
Oral medications, like Comfortis (a chewable tabelt made by Lilly) and Sentinel (made by Novartis), work by preventing the larva from hatching from its eggs. Adult fleas ingest the medication present in the host's blood and lay eggs that are not capable of hatching. This type of medication does not kill the adult flea. It enables fleas from reproducing and is meant to be used in combination that will kill the adult fleas.
Keeping your dog or cat on a consistent regimen of flea medication will prevent an infestation and keep you and your pet much happier without those itchy little pests around.