Fleas

Fleas are the archetypal blood-sucking parasites. There are 2,200 species but only a few that commonly infest dogs and cats, the most common being the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis. Its dark brown or black body measures 1-3 millimetres long and it can jump up to 60cm high,10,000 times in a row. You’ll usually find fleas on a dog’s abdomen, the base of the tail and the head, although a heavy infestation can thrive anywhere on the body. However, even if you can't see any fleas, it doesn't necessarily mean your dog doesn't have them. The most obvious signs are excessive scratching, licking or biting at body parts, which may in turn cause rashes, scaly skin, hot spots and hair loss. You may even see droppings, or flea dirt, in your dog’s coat.

Every year, tens of thousands of healthy dogs are euthanased because there are not enough homes for them all. Desexing your dog will help reduce the problem of unwanted litters of puppies as well as the likelihood of male dogs straying to find mates and ending up at a dog shelter themselves. Desexing also reduces aggression in male dogs and helps against other hormonally influenced behaviour problems, like dry-humping. And while some owners fear that desexing will alter their four-legged friend's personality, it's not the case. All the puppylike characteristics of playfulness, happiness and brightness stay with your dog for life.

Products such as Revolution® can be used to treat, control and prevent flea infestations, as well as control flea allergy dermatitis. Flea preventatives should be used year round. Your vet will be able to help you choose the right one for your dog.

  • Adult fleas (5% of lifecycle) are the ones you see jumping around your dog’s coat. They bite then feed on the blood of their host. After mating, a female flea lays 20-50 eggs per day and up to 2000 in her lifetime.
  • Flea eggs (50% of lifecycle) can’t readily be seen with the naked eye, are not sticky and once laid quickly fall off the dog into the surrounding environment. They take between 1-10 days to hatch into larvae
  • Flea larvae (35% of lifecycle) are small, worm-like life forms that move away from the light and bury themselves in dark places like carpet pile. They last 5-11 days while they undergo 2 moults to become a pupa (cocoon)
  • Flea pupae (10% of lifecycle) exist in a sticky impenetrable cocoon that becomes covered in debris and can't be harmed by insecticides. Pupae usually last 5-14 days, but may lay dormant for up to 6 months. Light, movement, vibrations and CO2 stimulate emergence of the adult flea from the pupa.

See More Health & Wellbeing Categories