A flea’s life cycle varies from 2 weeks to 2 years. There are four states of the flea life cycle, therefore it takes more than just 1 month of preventative to stop all these stages. Here are the four stages:
- 50% of fleas are made up of just the eggs.
- they can stay dormant for years and hatch when the environmental conditions are right.
- They can be laying in the cracks of your floor (where you can’t even see without magnification).
- For example: you move into a brand new apartment and suddenly your dog or cat has fleas! That’s from dormant flea eggs left by even two previous tenants. Because the flea senses the right conditions, aka your pet, they hatch out.
- 35% of fleas are made up of the larva stage.
- This is what they are called just after the eggs hatch.
- 10% of fleas are in this stage
- This is also known as the baby flea or immature flea
- 5% are the adult fleas.
- Their job is to feed and lay eggs.
So you can see why it takes a minimum of 3 months to break a flea infestation cycle.
In general, the warmer the state you live in, the higher the risk for your pet getting fleas.
All you snowbirds that take your pets with you need to make sure you are diligent about giving and applying flea preventatives. You can buy and take with you or buy when you get there. Just make sure your pet has a dose every 30 days.
Secondly, because the cycle takes 3 months to break, you also have to treat the environment.
- Sweep daily and take the bag from the vacuum out of your home because fleas will crawl out of the bag!)
- Wash all bedding in hot hot water (yours and your pets).
- All four stages can be found in carpeting, wood and laminate floors as well as bedding.
- You may want to invest in an exterminator to make sure your environment is properly treated.
Products VIP Animal Care sells to stop and prevent fleas.
- Capstar: is a 24 hour kill pill and is used as a start to getting rid of fleas (a first defense if you will). These can be given to cats or dogs. These must be repeated if a monthly prevention isn’t given within these 24 hours.
- Seresto Collars: This is an actual collar your cat or dog wears to prevent fleas and ticks. It last 6-8 months. The reason for the range of prevention coverage is that if your pet gets wet from bathing or swimming, the product takes more to reactivate, therefore a pet who does not get wet, will be able to use the collar longer before replacing.
- Trifexis: This is a dog only product that is a flea and heartworm preventative. It is a pill given every 30 days. Your dog must have a heartworm test before starting this product.
- Comfortis: This is a flea only product for dogs or cats. It is a pill given every 30 days.
- Vectra 3D: This is a topical treatment for dogs and cats and protects against fleas, ticks and mosquitos. It is applied to the back of your pet every 30 days.
- Knockout Spray: Is a spray for your home. We use this at the clinic in the exam rooms. You simply need to have you and your pets out of the area you are treating for at least 15 minutes. It is not a spray to be applied to your pet, but the environment.
Lastly, fleas jump. The can jump 150 times their body length. This is how they get a meal…by jumping onto your pet so they can feed, then lay eggs. Fleas also carry tapeworms. Your pet grooms himself and ingests the eggs, larva and pupa containing the tapeworms. This can make your pet sick. Puppies and kittens can be overwhelmed by these fleas and tapeworms. It is important to get treatment quickly. Some preventatives can’t be given to puppies and kittens this young.
Many dogs also develop flea allergy dermatitis or as we call it “flea bite allergy.” It is the most common allergy for dogs and can happen in cats as well. It is believed that it is the flea’s saliva that contains the allergen. Watch for these symptoms: Red inflamed skin, intense scratching, scabs which can lead to an infection, and hair loss in the area.