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The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer bring with them the torment of fleas.

The flea is responsible for many skin disorders on dogs and cats as well as causing them discomfort. Unless they are able to actually see the flea on the pet many owners are reluctant to accept that their pet has fleas, but the flea is a "temporary obligate parasite" meaning that they spend most of their time in the environment, usually the bedding of the pet, only hopping on the host for a feed of blood. The fleas found on the pet may be only a small percentage of the total flea population.

The female flea can lay up to 20 eggs per day. The eggs am usually laid in the pet's bedding or on the animal where they fall off and are deposited in the home or garden. If conditions are favourable eggs can hatch within a few days to maggot like larvae. These are found mainly where the pet sleeps and in the carpet and crevices. Full development of the larvae can take several weeks after which they spin a cocoon and enter pupation. The emergence of the flea from the cocoon can take as little as a week, however under the right climatic conditions the pupae can survive for several months. Hatching of the mature flea from the cocoon is triggered by vibration of a passing animal or human. Fleas have legs adapted for jumping and are stimulated to jump when a shadow falls on them suggesting an animal is nearby. Adult fleas locate a host by vibration, warmth and odour.

Many dogs and cats develop a severe allergy to flea bites and also self mutilate themselves in an attempt to gain relief from the itching. These pets must be treated by a veterinarian to obtain relief

The flea is also a host for the common tapeworm. A pet with fleas must be wormed for tapeworm and control of this worm must include effective flea control.

There are many products available to assist in controlling fleas on both pets and in the environment. It is useless to treat the pet for fleas unless the environment is also treated or the pet will quickly become re-infested.

Flea rinses, powders or sprays may be used to destroy the fleas on the pet while flea collars and systemic insecticidal products may be used to repel further infestation. There are also tablets available which quickly kill fleas on the pets as well as products which are placed on the animals skin.

It is of paramount importance to comply with the instructions on these products and not to use them in combination with each other unless the directions specify that it is safe to do so. Never use products past the use by date. Veterinarians are able to advise on the safe and effective use of flea control products. Care must be taken with use of flea control products on young puppies and kittens.

House and carpet sprays and insecticidal foggers, particularly those containing a growth regulator which interrupts the life cycle of the flea to prevent it maturing, provide the best method of destroying fleas in the environment.

It is necessary to maintain continuous treatment of both the pet and the environment during the warmer months.

Further Information
  Cat flea treatments

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 06/02/07 16:45 Views: 2210

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