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There are over 40 species of fleas in Canada.
The flea is the most frequently encountered external parasites in dogs and cats
It is a small and wingless biting insect.
The adult is about 1 to 4 mm in length
Its body is flattened laterally (lets it slip between hair) and it
is covered with a thick layer of chitin.
Its legs are long, strong and adapted to jumping, jumps which can reach
10 to 20 cm high and up to 40 cm long.
Only the adult stage is parasitic.
In some species of fleas, the adults feed from a single animal species.
Those who change hosts contribute to transmit several diseases,
in animals and humans.
Adult fleas feed on blood and can be responsible for allergic dermatitis
to flea bites since their saliva contains many allergens.
In addition, they can transmit the flat worm flat parasite.
It parasites more than 50 different animal species.
It particularly affects cats, dogs, wild canids (coyotes, fox, wolf)
skunks, raccoons, rodents, etc.
Only the adult is found on the host.
Before mating, a female adult first takes a blood meal on
an animal or a human.
Then the adult female lays her eggs, primarily on the animal.
Eggs laid will quickly fall in the environment since they do not stick to fur.
The eggs can be found in the immediate surroundings of the host.
The cycle is completed in the environment. The transformation from egg to adult,
through various larval and pupa (and cocoon if formed),
may take a period of three weeks to a year, depending on environmental conditions
Under ideal conditions, a temperature of about 27 to 30ºC
and a relative humidity of about 75%, the cycle will be completed between two
and four weeks.
Fleas often take a few meals a day, and often after making
multiple tests bites before gorging blood. Thus a single flea can
be responsible for many daily bites!
A female can produce about 20 eggs a day for three weeks
(Total potential egg laying 500 eggs during her lifetime). Assuming a generation a
month, two fleas could theoretically create in less than three months,
a population of 16 million fleas!
Pre-emerged adult fleas can remain in their cocoons until
they are awakened by stimuli such as vibrations of the floor when the family returns from travel or
people moving into an apartment previously inhabited by infested animals.
The larvae are found mainly in living rooms,bedrooms or rooms
with carpets or floor boards give them hiding spots. By examining the
accumulated debris collected by a vacuum cleaner, you can spot the eggs.
To check for the presence of adult fleas, wear long white socks
or put white sheets on the floor. So you can see them better.
Since they jump, they attack feet and ankles during the day,
while all parts of the body can be affected at night.
They can hide in mattresses.
There are no visible traces following the first blood samples from humans.
Sometimes reddish dots are grouped into line patterns following the exploratory bites
of the flea.
Allergic people and animals hypersensitive to the saliva that she injects
suffer severe itching. They have a clear preference
for babies and young children.
Fleas can be found everywhere on your pet. Inspect
(In good light) hair from his abdomen, and other
areas where hair is sparse.
Sometimes it is easier to observe droppings (dried excrement).
You can rub a detergent soaked cotton swab on the animal fur and check if it turns reddish
in contact with the hair.
Adult fleas can live for several months without feeding, so even if you
get rid of your pets, the infestation may persist for
weeks and months, so you must treat the problem appropriately.
It is best not to install carpets throughout the house, as they are
an ideal habitat for the larvae.
Cats and dogs are not usually infested by contact with others of their kind,
they are usually infested outside when walking near an infested site.
If you do not have a pet at home, check if wild animals
or bird nests would not be found near your home.
When a person takes an infested pet in his arms, the fleas will rarely attack him.
It is mostly the newly emerged fleas which
are more likely to jump on humans, especially if the infested animal
has been removed from the home.
The veterinarian can show you the options available to protect your pet
(And therefore your own health) before flea season, from late
summer to early fall. However, fleas can live in homes all year round.
Several products (shampoos, collars, etc.) were marketed to eliminate fleas.
Today, we focus more on prevention, but treatments are
also possible to solve an existing infestation. An insecticide can
be placed on the back of the animal and a growth regulator can be administered
as tablets or injections.
Any flea that jumps on this animal will be killed or will be prevented from
having descendants. The preventive approach begins in early June and continues
Finally, treatment can be applied in homes but they should
be administered by specialists to make sure that all sources
of infestation are treated.