Fleas: Tiny Pests, Big Problems
Facts About Fleas
The world is host to over 2,000 species of fleas, and the most common flea is ctenocephalides felis, the “cat flea.” Despite its name, the cat flea affects dogs and cats, wild animals like raccoons and skunks, and pet owners.
Quick flea facts:
- A flea can jump more than 100 times its length.
- Fleas will start feeding on your pet within 5 minutes, and can live there for almost two months.
- They can lay eggs at a rate of 40-50 eggs per day through their life.
- Larvae can burrow into fabrics, bedding and carpeting for weeks to months, emerging and infesting on your pet when conditions are optimum.
- Fleas can transmit tapeworm and bacterial diseases to dogs, cats and even humans.
Flea Growth Chart
See how quickly fleas can lay eggs and reproduce.
CHECKING FOR FLEAS
Facts About Fleas
Most dogs and cats will pick up fleas at least once in their lifetime—even pets that never go outdoors are at risk.
Getting fleas doesn’t have to be a big deal if you catch and stop fleas early. Routinely checking for fleas, and always keeping an eye out, can help prevent major infestations.
- Part the coat near the base of the tail with your hands or a flea comb. Fleas are about the size of a pinhead and may move when disturbed.
- If you don’t see fleas, check for dark, pepper-like particles on the skin or coat. These may be signs of flea droppings (known as flea dirt).
- If you’re unsure if it’s flea dirt, dab it with a wet paper towel or cotton ball. If you see dark reddish brown or orange swirls it is flea dirt and your pet has fleas.
If you find fleas, take action right away by contacting your veterinarian!
Breaking the Flea Life Cycle
Did you know that for every flea on your pet, there are about nine more in your home? You might think you’ve accomplished getting rid of fleas, only to find a new generation emerging days to weeks later.
To avoid this, veterinarians recommend using monthly topical flea products all year round, for every pet in your home. This kills adult fleas and newly hatched fleas to break the flea cycle and stop re-infestations.
In addition to treatment, it’s best to clean your house thoroughly the same day. Be sure to wash pet bedding at a high temperature and vacuum all carpets and furniture (discarding vacuum bag after use).
Flea & Ticks Resources
Keep Fleas & Ticks Off Your Dog
Ticks can be found right in your own backyard. Research ticks in your area, tick-borne diseases, how to help prevent ticks in your home and what to do if you find a tick on your dog.
- Blagburn BL, Dryden MW. Biology, treatment, and control of flea and tick infestations. Vet Clin N Am Small Anim Pract. 2009;39(6):1173-1200.
- Dryden M, Rust M. The cat flea: biology, ecology and control. Vet Parasitol. 1994;52:1-19.
- Data on file, Merck Animal Health
- Guerino F, Qureshi T, Hair J, Young D, Fiourie J. Indoxacarb Kills Developing Stages of Fleas in the Environment of Treated Cats. Presented at the WSAVA/FECAVA/BSAVA World Congress. 12-15 April 2012. Birmingham, UK.
- Frontline® is a registered trademark of Merial.
- Dryden MW, et al. Parasites & Vectors. 2013;6:126.