If you are the proud parent to a dog or cat, there is a good chance that you have or will encounter fleas at some point during your pet’s lifetime. Parasites and pets go hand in hand unless you take serious steps to prevent them. And unfortunately, as parasites go, fleas are definitely one of the hardest ones to deal with. These tiny, wingless creatures may seem harmless, but they can pose some danger to your furbaby as well as affecting the humans living in your home.
Flea Danger #1 – They reproduce very quickly
One of the biggest dangers of fleas is that they reproduce at an exponential rate. A single adult female flea can lay as many as 40 eggs every day, and each egg can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to hatch, depending on the environmental conditions. Warmer weather and higher humidity means that eggs will hatch at the faster rate. The entire flea lifecycle, from egg to adult flea, can take between 12 and 22 days, allowing a single flea to turn into an infestation in less than a month.
Flea Danger #2 – They will feast on you as well as your pet
Fleas are an external parasite. This means that while they live on the outside of your pet’s body, they survive by biting into her skin and drinking her blood. However, fleas aren’t too fussy about which blood they drink either, so if you happen to be passing by, they will quite happily hop onto you for a meal too.
Flea Danger #3 – Flea saliva is toxic
Flea bites are a lot like the bites of other insects in that their saliva is mildly toxic. When your pet’s skin comes into contact with the saliva, it can cause itchiness, redness and even swelling and discomfort. Your furbaby may not be able to resist the itch and may scratch persistently. The problem with this is that if your pet scratches too hard or too much in the same area, she may break the skin and an infection may occur.
Flea saliva is toxic to humans too, so if you are bitten you may find yourself suffering from irritating, painful red welts on your feet, ankles and calves.
Flea Danger #4 – Fleas can cause your pet to develop tapeworms
Tapeworms are an internal parasite that live inside fleas. However, should your furry pal accidentally ingest a few fleas, tapeworms may grow inside your pet. While not fatally serious, they can cause a few health problems for her including an itchy bottom and weight loss. They are easily treated by a vet, but by preventing fleas you may be able to avoid tapeworm altogether.
Flea Danger #5 – A serious infestation can cause anemia
While a single flea chowing down on your pet’s blood may not cause her too much of a problem, a whole infestation is another matter. When young or small animals suffer from a severe infestation of fleas, their red blood cell count may decrease, and they could become anemic. Degrees of anemia can vary, but in some cases, the condition can be life-threatening.
Flea Danger #6 – Getting rid of fleas isn’t as easy as you might think
Once fleas have got into your home, it can be very difficult to get them out. Flea infestations are rarely localized, and they can survive for several months without a host. The only way to be sure that you have completely cleared your property of fleas is to treat your home and your pets at the same time. It is equally as important to treat fleas at all stages of their lifecycle, otherwise re-infestation could occur.
To eradicate fleas from your home you will need to workover the entire house, from the floorboards to the soft furnishings including carpets, curtains, rugs and bedding. If the infestation is severe, you may wish to throw some of these items in the garbage rather than risk missing any fleas. In many cases, an owner will call in professionals to deal with the infestation.
Fortunately, it is possible to protect your pet and home from fleas. There are many different preventative medications and spot-on treatments available, and our veterinarian in Atlanta, GA will be delighted to recommend the most suitable one for your pet. Please do not hesitate to contact us today to find out more about the dangers of fleas and what you can do to keep your pet safe.