Fleas, Ticks and What You Need to Know.
FLEAS: HOW TO DETECT AND ELIMINATE
Fleas are laterally compressed, six-legged insects that drink the blood of their hosts. They are made for jumping, but their compressed shape means that it’s also simple for them to run from place to place through the hair on you pet. Although there are many different species of fleas, the most common on is Ctenocephalides felis, a cat flea that actually prefers dogs.
Lifecycle of the Flea
A flea has four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Fleas take about a month to grow from egg to adult. The female adult flea lays her eggs about two days after she mates and the eggs take about two days to hatch into larvae. Flea eggs are not sticky and tend to fall onto places where the pet rest or sleeps. Larvae feed off “flea dirt”, which is actually the mother flea’s feces, and then take about a week to start spinning a cocoon. The cocooned larva remains in this state for about 15 days, and then hatches into the adult flea.
What Fleas Like
Fleas thrive in warm, humid conditions at low altitudes. They live on blood and, in fact, female fleas require a “blood meal” in order to lay her eggs. The flea dirt that you see on your dog (see Telltale Signs) is actually what larvae need to feed on to live. Fleas like an environment with plenty of hosts to feed on - dogs, cats, humans, whomever. They also love environments where the bedding is not cleaned regularly and vacuum bag is not thrown out after every cleaning. This means that the fleas can live on the beds and hatch while they’d in the secure environment of the vacuum bag or undisturbed bed!
There are several ways to tell for sure that your pet is suffering from a flea infestation. Part your pets fur in strong light. Youll probably want to search on your pets lower back, abdominal area, or rump. An easy way to accomplish this is by using a comb to part the hair. If you see red or reddish brown shapes jumping or moving towards the light, that's a sure sign your pet has fleas. If you notice black or brown speck on your pets’ rump, take a moist, white paper towel and wipe the specks. If the towel gets reddish, that’s “flea dirt” and your pet has fleas. The color comes from the pregnant female in ingested red blood cells. Skin irritations, “hot spots” or lots of scratching or biting could indicate a flea infestation. Flea dirt, eggs, or larvae on your pet’s bedding also indicate fleas.
Prevention and Control
When it comes to getting rid of fleas, remember these important facts:
A pair of fleas may produce 20,000 fleas in three months! And because of their capacity fleas can lay dormant up to a year (and certainly over the winter) you must kill fleas at all stages of their lifecycle to eliminate them from your environment. Also remember fleas can go several months without a meal.
If you live in an area where fleas are a common problem, and you'll have a unique problem if you live in an area where fleas are active year-round or in an environment where fleas thrive. You must break the life cycle of the flea to prevent problems. Keep your pet on a year-round monthly topical and use other flea products every 4-6 weeks to keep fleas away.
There is thirteen known species of ticks in the state of Minnesota. The majority are know as hard ticks. Of these, three kinds of commonly encountered by humans the American Dog Tick, AKA Wood Tick, Blackklegged Tick, AKA Deer Tick and the Common Brown Dog Tick. There is also soft ticks but they are usually associated with bats.
Ticks can be very challenging to identify. Color, size is sometimes helpful, but you can not rely on this in all situations.
Blacklegged ticks, AKA Deer Tick) transmit organisms that cause Lyme Disease., human anaplasmosis (formerly know as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis), babesiosis, and Powassan encephalitis. The American dog tick can carry the disease organism that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the U.S., but this disease is rarely encountered in Minnesota.
Removal of Attached Tick
Prompt removal of embedded ticks is important as the risk of disease transmission increases. The best method for removal of the feeding tick is to gasp it as close as possible to the skin of the host with tweezers or tissue paper. Be careful to avoid squeezing the abdomen. Gently, yet firmly apply steady pressure on the tick until you pull out. The use of tape, alcohol, or Vaseline to cover the tick and cause it to voluntarily pull its mouthparts out of the skin is not effective. If in doubt to type of tick you have encountered place it in a small container to be identified later.
Topical treatments for pets, generally are Once-a-month treatments. Use products such as Bio Spot®, Frontline®, or Advantage®. Seresto® is a newer flea collar that last up to 8 months.
Program with Lufenuron in it. It is very safe for your pet and is absorb in the fat layers of your pet’s body. This product contains the IDI (Insect Development Inhibitor) which inhibits the flea egg and larvae development or IGR (Insect Growth Regulator)· IDI is an oral treatment, which you can get from your veterinarian. Give with food to either your cat or dog once a month.
If you already have fleas...
If, despite your best prevention efforts, you find yourself with a flea infestation, it is important to eliminate all stages of the flea from every place they inhabit at once. Once you have the problem under control, follow prevention procedures.
First, rid your pet of fleas:
Eliminate them from your Pet
Shampoos: it is important to leave shampoo on you pet for 10-15 minutes in order for it to work.
Spot On's - Spot on applications are very effective in treating your pets today, and actually safer than a dipping. Dips are a part of past for defending our pets from Fleas and Ticks but today's products such as Frontline, Frontline plus, K9 advantix, Bio-spot, Zodiac are very effective because the products cover from nose to tail from paw to paw and last for 30 days.
Powders and Sprays: You may choose either of these. Make sure to spay or powder all parts of the animal. Again use these products in well-ventilated area and careful not to get in the pet’s eyes.
Combs: You can comb fleas off your pet with a flea comb.
Eliminate them from your home
Vacuum thoroughly first (do not forget to toss the bag!), then:
Fog and Spray: We recommend that you both fog and spray for best results. Pets and people must leave the premises for the amount of time indicated on the label.
Sprays: Spray your pet’s bedding, corners, and baseboards for extra insurance.
Environmental treatments for inside your home.
Use products such as a fogger or 14 day flea and tick household spray. foggers work for the most part but buy beware the fogger chemicals do not reach under your tables, couches, beds, etc.
Finally, tackle the outside environment:
Yard and kennel areas are sometimes where flea problems start. Fleas love warm, moist environments, and anyplace your pet spends a lot of time. Use and environmentally - friendly spray. You may need to treat your yard once every two weeks or so, depending on the product. Use products such as an outdoor spray or powder. Be sure to get your yard, kennel areas, where you pet like to spend time or play, under porches, steps leading into your home (if you can move them) doghouses, or the corners of patios.
So now you know how to keep fleas from infesting your life. Prevention is, of course, the easiest road to take, but if you have a problem already, there are products out there to help. Good luck in whatever you choose!
Flea and Tick Preventive WARNING