Tips for Fighting the Flea Battle

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Flea Life Cycle

This graphic from the CDC shows the basic flea life cycle.

http://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/fleas/

 

If you are seeing fleas on your pet, you very likely have fleas in the pet’s environment.   Only around 5-10% of the flea population lives in the adult form on pets. The remaining 90-95% exists in the egg, maggot (larvae), or cocoon (pupae) stages in the environment.   The pupae stage can last for many months and is one of the reasons we recommend treating for at least 3 months.

Tips:

How to determine which rooms have the most fleas: place a shallow bowl of soapy water on the floor with a lamp (table lamp, desk lamp, etc.) shining on the water. Fleas will be attracted to the heat and light and drown in the water.

Buy a cheap flea collar, stretch it and put it in your vacuum cleaner bag or canister for the next 3 months. Vacuum your house and fabric furniture (and mattresses) daily for 7 days; every other day for 7 days; then weekly forever.

After testing a small, inconspicuous area of fabric to be treated, spray all fabric surfaces with knockout spray (or use the fogger). Please follow all label instructions on the bottle.

Wash all human and animal bedding and double dry it to kill flea eggs.

Spray the yard with appropriate yard spray to decrease the flea population.

Apply flea prevention to all animals in your household appropriately for the next 90 days minimum (year round is recommended). Please ask us for individual pet recommendations.  Call at 573-875-3647

 

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Why is my dog SO ITCHY?

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It’s that time a year again!   We’ve been getting call after call about itchy dogs.    So why do dogs get so itchy?

There are many, many reasons dogs get itchy!  In this blog we’ll cover some of the basics.

  1. Fleas-  Fleas are probably the most common reason we see itchy dogs (or cats for that matter).    You don’t have to see fleas on your pet for fleas to cause a problem for your dog!  Most of the flea population exists in the environment in immature forms.  For more information on the flea life cycle, read our “A Day in the Life of a Flea” blog post.    One flea can bite your dog 200 times a day!  Some dogs are even allergic, and just 1 flea bite can make them tremendously itchy!  SO the first step in making your dog comfortable is keeping them on a monthly flea preventative.
  2. Atopy – Atopy is just a fancy word for allergies.   Many dogs can be allergic to something in their environment like dust mites or pollen.    There are a lot of different treatments we can recommend to help your pet with his or her allergies including shampoos, oral medications, and injections.  We even have a test that can help identify what things trigger your pet’s allergies.
  3. Food allergies – Some dogs have skin issues that are related to the food.  Dogs can develop allergies to food.  Most of the time dogs are allergic to the protein source (chicken, for example) in the food.  In order to be allergic to a food, a dog must have had that food in the past.  Even if your pet hasn’t had a problem with food, he or she could still develop a food allergy.  There are a number of different foods we can recommend to help or rule out a food allergy.
  4. Ringworm – Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that can infect your dog (and you).   If you suspect your pet has ringworm, bring them in immediately.  If any humans develop a rash in your household, be sure to seek medical treatment with your health care provider.
  5.  Other parasitesThere are a number of other parasites that infect your pet’s skin including ticks, mange mites (like scabies and demodex), chiggers (another type of mite), and lice.
  6. Other causesThere are many other reasons your dog could be itchy ranging from contact with a skin irritant, too many skin folds, spiders, and much more…

So what should you do if your dog is itchy?  Well since there are so many different causes, we recommend giving us a call so we can make recommendations based on your pet’s unique situation.  Call us at 573-875-3647.

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A Day in the Life of a Flea

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Hi!  My name is Mrs. Fleanice, and I am here today to talk today about what it’s like being a flea.

 

So I am a Ctenocephalides felis, or a cat flea.  Although I am called a cat flea, I can feed off any mammal.   My species is also the most common type of flea infesting dogs as well as cats.  I am a small (1 to 2 mm long), dark brown to black insect with a thin appearance, and I have very powerful hind legs that can propel me quite high (almost 1 foot) for my small size.

 

I had a very normal flea childhood.  My mother laid a salt-like egg that slid right off of the dog she was living on.  My egg resided in between the boards of a hardwood floor for a couple of days.  After about 4 days, I hatched into a flea larva (which looks like a tiny maggot).  It sounds quite gross, but as a larva, I fed on my mother’s and other family members’ poop.  Flea poop is a nutritious meal for flea larvae as the poop is essentially dried blood.  As I grew, I shed my skin a couple of times and went through 3 larval stages.  In ideal conditions (warm and humid), I began to spin a cocoon and became a pupa during my 3rd larval stage.  My cocoon is very sticky so I can stick to a host or gain a shell of dust and fine debris.  After about 3-4 weeks, I emerged as a beautiful butterfly…just kidding!   After 3-4 weeks, I became a full-fledged adult flea.   I found a comfortable dog to live on and started meeting boy fleas and partying!  So far I’ve produced over 100 eggs, and I plan to continue feeding, partying, and producing more eggs until the day I die!

 

Here are some really interesting facts about my life and fleas:

  • If I didn’t find a suitable host right away, I could have lived for months without a blood meal.  I would simply wait for an appropriate host to come by.  Sometimes while people are on vacations and their dogs are not at home, we party in their house.  So when the owners come home, a bunch of us have hatched and we’re ready to feed.
  • If you see me on your dog, then you probably have hundreds more fleas in the larval and egg stages in your house.  As adults, we only make up about 5% of the flea population.   That means for every adult flea you see, there are 95 more you’re unable to see.
  • Our eggs and larvae tend to accumulate wherever the animal we’re feeding on spends the most time.  We don’t really care if that’s a pet’s bed, a human’s bed where the pet sleeps, a couch, a dog house, or even the dirt in your back yard.  As long as the temperature and humidity are ok – we will survive.
  • When the temperature is between 55F and 90F, and the relative humidity is 92% we can go from an egg to an adult in about 14 days, but it can take 140 days when the environment is not as ideal.
  • We also carry a tapeworm that can be passed to dogs and cats if the animal happens to eat one of us on accident.
  • I can bite a pet up to 200 times per day!
  • There are a number of products that can kill us.  Because of our complex life cycle, your pet’s veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan that encompasses multiple life stages.  If you just focus on killing adults, you’ll continue to see fleas because of all the other stages of our life cycle.  Of course…as a flea, I recommend just letting us feed on you and your pets forever!

 

 

I hope you found my life very interesting.  Even though I love partying on your pet, I know Dr. Katie or Dr. Debbie would love to help you stop our party.  If you have any questions, call them today 573-875-3647.

Hi!  My name is Mrs. Fleanice, and I am here today to talk today about what it’s like being a flea.

 

So I am a Ctenocephalides felis, or a cat flea.  Although I am called a cat flea, I can feed off any mammal.   My species is also the most common type of flea infesting dogs as well as cats.  I am a small (1 to 2 mm long), dark brown to black insect with a thin appearance, and I have very powerful hind legs that can propel me quite high (almost 1 foot) for my small size.

 

I had a very normal flea childhood.  My mother laid a salt-like egg that slid right off of the dog she was living on.  My egg resided in between the boards of a hardwood floor for a couple of days.  After about 4 days, I hatched into a flea larva (which looks like a tiny maggot).  It sounds quite gross, but as a larva, I fed on my mother’s and other family members’ poop.  Flea poop is a nutritious meal for flea larvae as the poop is essentially dried blood.  As I grew, I shed my skin a couple of times and went through 3 larval stages.  In ideal conditions (warm and humid), I began to spin a cocoon and became a pupa during my 3rd larval stage.  My cocoon is very sticky so I can stick to a host or gain a shell of dust and fine debris.  After about 3-4 weeks, I emerged as a beautiful butterfly…just kidding!   After 3-4 weeks, I became a full-fledged adult flea.   I found a comfortable dog to live on and started meeting boy fleas and partying!  So far I’ve produced over 100 eggs, and I plan to continue feeding, partying, and producing more eggs until the day I die!

 

Here are some really interesting facts about my life and fleas:

  • If I didn’t find a suitable host right away, I could have lived for months without a blood meal.  I would simply wait for an appropriate host to come by.  Sometimes while people are on vacations and their dogs are not at home, we party in their house.  So when the owners come home, a bunch of us have hatched and we’re ready to feed.
  • If you see me on your dog, then you probably have hundreds more fleas in the larval and egg stages in your house.  As adults, we only make up about 5% of the flea population.   That means for every adult flea you see, there are 95 more you’re unable to see.
  • Our eggs and larvae tend to accumulate wherever the animal we’re feeding on spends the most time.  We don’t really care if that’s a pet’s bed, a human’s bed where the pet sleeps, a couch, a dog house, or even the dirt in your back yard.  As long as the temperature and humidity are ok – we will survive.
  • When the temperature is between 55F and 90F, and the relative humidity is 92% we can go from an egg to an adult in about 14 days, but it can take 140 days when the environment is not as ideal.
  • We also carry a tapeworm that can be passed to dogs and cats if the animal happens to eat one of us on accident.
  • I can bite a pet up to 200 times per day!
  • There are a number of products that can kill us.  Because of our complex life cycle, your pet’s veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan that encompasses multiple life stages.  If you just focus on killing adults, you’ll continue to see fleas because of all the other stages of our life cycle.  Of course…as a flea, I recommend just letting us feed on you and your pets forever!

 

 

I hope you found my life very interesting.  Even though I love partying on your pet, I know Dr. Katie or Dr. Debbie would love to help you stop our party.  If you have any questions, call them today 573-875-3647.

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