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Ctenocephalides felis —that’s the nearly unpronounceable name for a most unpleasant freeloader: the common cat flea, which also feeds on the blood of dogs, birds, small pets and, unfortunately, humans. These bloodsuckers can jump onto animals and humans outdoors, in the home, at kennels, and at the groomer. Their prolific breeding makes rabbits seem unromantic and when left unchecked, fleas can quickly overrun your house with their offspring.
Here’s how they work: The flea life cycle begins with an adult female flea living on your pet's skin. When she lays eggs, they drop off your pet and into your bedding, carpets, blankets and clothes. Eggs usually hatch in 1 to 10 days. One to two weeks later, they enter the pupal stage. Under most circumstances, adult fleas emerge about 5 to 10 days later. They immediately begin searching for an acceptable host. The key thing to remember is that any adult fleas you find on your pet represent less than 5% of the total fleas in any given environment.
Some pets and humans may have immunological reactions to fleabites, resulting in flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). FAD may lead to more intense symptoms as well as secondary bacterial infections on the skin. Some fleas can transmit tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) when a pet ingests a tapeworm-infested flea. In young or debilitated animals, severe flea infestations can result in enough blood loss to make the pet anemic.
Not all products kill fleas at every life stage. Make sure to wash all of your pet’s belongings in HOT water to kill any remaining fleas and eggs. Consult your vet to discuss what year-round prevention product works best for your pet and will kill fleas at all life stages. Many preventative flea products prevent other parasites, such as ticks and heartworms; there are several options to choose from.
Vacuum twice a day for two weeks. It is essential to empty the bag properly after vacuuming – otherwise, fleas will hatch and leave the vacuum to re-infest your home.
IMPORTANT: You must treat your home and pet again – 3 to 4 weeks after your first treatment