Every year when flea season begins, the suffering sets in: the itching, the scratching, the biting, the chewing. It’s a painful and irritating routine for you and your pet. Flea control should begin as flea prevention, before flea season starts. We offer the latest products in flea, tick, and internal parasite prevention and treatment. As each product differs in the spectrum of organisms it treats, our veterinarian is here to work with you to find the product that best suits your cat or dog’s medical needs and lifestyle.
Here is some additional information regarding fleas’ life cycle and treatment:
Fleas are small (1-3 mm long), dark-brown or reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of animals and people. They do not have wings, but are able to jump up to 20 cm vertically and 40 cm horizontally, about 200 times their body length, making them the best jumper on the planet (relative to body size). Depending on the species and temperature, it takes about 2 weeks for a flea to grow through the four stages of development: the egg, larva, pupa and adult. After eating a blood meal, the female flea lays an average of 25 smooth, light-coloured eggs per day. White, worm-like larva with brownish-coloured heads hatch from the eggs in approximately one week. They can range from about 1.5 mm to 5 mm in length and feed on adult flea feces and dead organic debris. Larva will spin silk cocoons and will eventually emerge as adult fleas in about one to two weeks. Vibrations created by the presence of humans and pets will stimulate their emergence and activity. The peak season for flea infestations outdoors in most parts of Canada is from May/June to early October. However, due to the mild temperatures experienced in Vancouver, fleas can be seen year-round.
Fleas can become a very serious problem if not treated. Rashes can occur due to allergic reactions of the flea saliva when bitten. Flea bites are usually quite small with a single puncture hole at the center. The bite can become hard, red, itchy, slightly-raised and swollen. The bites often appear in clusters or lines, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks. Hair loss can occur as a result of frequent scratching and biting by the animal, and can cause anemia in extreme cases. Besides these problems fleas can also transmit diseases. Endemic typhus fever, and in some cases tapeworm can also be transmitted by fleas.
So how do we treat a flea infestation? To break the flea cycle successfully, the home, pet, and often times the yard must be treated. Washing all carpet and linens with steam and hot, soapy water will kill fleas in all stages of their life cycle. To prevent future infestations, inspect pets regularly, especially during peak flea season and use a flea control product such as Advantage, Revolution, Program or Sentinel. Bathing products are also available. Before using a product, consult with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment for your pet.