[Dr. Jeff Werber:
Dealing with fleas is a very common and annoying problem for pet owners. Chances are, your dog will encounter these thirsty little bloodsuckers at some point. These tiny pests can be hard to spot. Fleas can’t fly. But they can jump up to 8 inches high, making your dog an easy target. And they can be more than just annoying. They can pose a serious danger to the health and well-being of your pets and family.
The saliva from flea bites can trigger an extremely unpleasant skin allergy in your dog. Severe flea infestations can produce blood disorders, especially in puppies or older dogs with other health conditions, and ingested fleas can even cause intestinal tapeworm infections. So let’s take a closer look at the flea life cycle.
Fleas live off the blood of their host – whether that’s your dog, your cat or a wild animal. Once a flea jumps onto your dog, it only needs a few seconds to begin feasting. Fleas must feed a lot in order to reproduce. A female flea consumes 15 times her body weight in blood every day. Once she’s made a meal of your dog, she’ll start laying eggs in less than 48 hours. Female fleas produce 40 to 50 eggs a day and they usually lay their eggs right in your dog’s hair. Many of these eggs will fall off of your dog, spreading the infestation all over your home and yard.
Flea larvae, which are similar to maggots, hatch in just one to six days. At this stage, they like to live deep in carpeting or under furniture. Outside, they develop best in shaded areas or in yard debris. The larvae build a cocoon to help them grow and mature into adults. The adult flea can emerge from the cocoon in just 13 days. However, a fully developed flea can remain inside the cocoon for nearly a year, which is why infestations can sometimes pop up out of nowhere. Once out of the cocoon, adult fleas begin searching for their next meal, and the whole itchy cycle begins again. Most people don’t realize that in many areas, adult fleas can survive throughout the winter on pets and wildlife, so the threat never truly goes away.
If your dog is showing signs of excessive scratching, check his skin and coat for the presence of adult fleas. Using a fine-toothed comb can help. And also look for signs of ”flea dirt,“ the dried blood and waste left behind after a flea feasts on your dog. If you find evidence of fleas on your dog, it’s important to take action right away. Fleas reproduce so quickly, you’ll want to fight back before the infestation has a chance to grow. There are many different types of flea treatment options available. Talk to your veterinarian about which one is right for your dog.
If your home is already infested, you can help eliminate flea eggs and larvae by steam cleaning your carpets and upholstery, washing all bedding weekly and using flea sprays as recommended by your veterinarian. If you have other pets at home, ask your veterinarian to recommend an approved flea product. The best way to fight fleas is to kill them before they can reproduce, so talk to your veterinarian about how a monthly parasite protection routine can help you keep fleas off your dog all year-round.
Ask about Trifexis, the combination product that kills fleas and prevents infestations, prevents heartworm disease, and treats and controls hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections. See the full product label for complete safety information.
Serious adverse reactions have been reported following concomitant extra-label use of ivermectin with spinosad alone, one of the components of Trifexis. Treatment with fewer than three monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention.
Prior to administration of Trifexis, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infection. Use with caution in dogs with pre-existing epilepsy. The most common adverse reactions reported are vomiting, depression, itching and decreased appetite. To ensure heartworm prevention, observe your dog for one hour after administration. If vomiting occurs within an hour of administration, redose.]