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Dog Fleas

Health in South Africa

Subject: Parasites
Province: South Africa
City: South Africa
Ad ID: 112317
Dogs pick up fleas from the environment. The adult flea lives on the dog, feeding off its blood. Therefore, flea dirt is composed of blood. By brushing your dog's fur onto a wetted piece of paper with a nit comb the blood in the flea dirt dissolves. This is an easy way of diagnosing the presence of fleas as in light infestations and long haired breeds, finding the adult fleas can be difficult. Adult fleas represent only 5% of the flea population. Each flea lays about thirty eggs per day, which fall from the dog and develop within the home. Flea eggs represent 50% of the flea population.

They fall from the dog wherever it goes. This includes your bed! Flea eggs develop into larvae within ten days. Flea larvae represent 35% of the flea population. They live within the carpet base, feeding on organic debris and spinning a cocoon before pupating.

Flea pupae represent 10% of the flea population. Fully developed fleas can remain protected in the cocoon for many months waiting for your dog/cat to pass by, so that they can hatch and jump upon your pet, thus starting the life cycle again. The whole flea life cycle may be as short as two weeks under ideal warm conditions, but it can take several months if cooler.

If one adult flea lives for twenty-one days and lays 30 eggs per day, then 630 eggs would be laid in total. If all these eggs produce adult fleas and they lay eggs then there would be 396,000 eggs laid after 28 days! Nowadays adult fleas are present all year round due to warm climates and central heating during colder times. Although numbers do decrease over the winter, numbers will rise in the summer to cause a population explosion in the late summer months.

As stated above, adult fleas draw blood from capillaines (tiny blood vessels within the skin), releasing hapten (a protein) into the blood stream. This can be the main causal agent of an allergic reaction. The dog/cat that is allergic to flea bites will become very itchy. Increased s cratching of their body, paws and ears will then lead to secondary infection. This secondary infection causes irritation,thus creating a vicious circle. In fact some pets only require just one flea bite to start scratching. Therefore, one has to treat the secondary infection as well as the fleas. Steroids are used in the short term to break the scratch/itch reflex. As mentioned in other articles, steroids can have side effects. the vet has to identify and treat the secondary infection accordingly.

It is therefore obvious that as 95% of the flea population are present in the home, treating only the dog will be ineffective and so it is best advised to treat both dogs and cats as well as the house itself. In my opinion flea collars, shampoos and powders are less effective than aerosol flea sprays in killing adult fleas. However, the short residual effects and noise during application makes aerosol flea sprays both time consuming and frightening, particularly when used on cats. The spot on type applications are the method of choice for treatment for dogs and cats. N.B. The most effective treatments are only available from your veterinary surgeon. There is a new spot on product, that when available will kill adult fleas, flea eggs, sar-coptic mange mite, roundworms and heartworm in dogs. In cats, adult fleas and eggs, ear mites, roundworm, hookworm and heartworm, thus reducing both the time of use and cost in purchasing products.

Fleas cause up to 80% of allergic skin diseases. One needs to treat pets and house continually all year round. Providing protection for up to six months, household environmental sprays kill adult fleas, larvae and un-hatched eggs, thus attacking the life cycle at all stages. Tablets taken orally at six monthly intervals and six monthly injections are available, they interrupt the life cycle in preventing the flea eggs from hatching Although safe and somewhat effective, the cost of such products is often their downfall. Causing up to 80% of allergic skin disease cases, fleas must be both continually prevented and treated all year round.
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