Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can stop treating your pet for fleas! In most areas fall is the worst season for fleas. Dr. Michael Dryden, professor of veterinary parasitology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, calls it “the fall flea surge.” Dr. Dryden has discovered that the number of fleas on animals in the fall is over 70% higher than in the spring. He proposes the reason for the increase in flea numbers in the fall is due to an increase in precipitation and cooler temperatures.
Fleas are very efficient when it comes to reproduction. Within 15 minutes of being on your pet, fleas take their 1st blood meal, and within 24-36 hours they begin to lay eggs. A female flea can lay 28-50 eggs per day. Eggs will then fall off your pet into the environment and hatch within 2-5 days. Flea eggs then develop into larvae (maggots). The larvae then burrow into the carpet or other dark areas where they will stay for the next 7-14 days. After the larval stage, they become pupae where they are protected by a cocoon. They stay in the pupal stage until the conditions are ideal for the fleas to emerge. Temperature, humidity, vibration, changes in light, can all stimulate the change from pupae to adult flea. When temperatures stay around 70 degrees fleas begin to hatch in large numbers. Fleas can live inside of homes year around. It is also important to keep in mind that the fleas you see on your pet only represent 5% of the total flea population. 95% of the fleas are in the environment in immature stages.
Often to eliminate flea problems it is necessary to treat both the pet and the environment. For successful flea control all pets in the household must be treated. This includes outside pets as well, because untreated pets can be a constant source of reinfection. There are topical and oral products available to provide your pet with up to three months of flea protection. We can make a recommendation on what product best fits you and your pet’s needs. It is very important to be cautious when applying topical medications to cats. Be sure that the product is labeled for use in cats to avoid potentially fatal side effects. To treat your environment, it is important to first vacuum the area. The heat and the vibration from the vacuum will stimulate more eggs to hatch and you will kill more adult fleas when you treat the area. There are various area treatment sprays available to treat homes and furniture. It is important to use a product containing an IGR (insect growth regulator) because they will keep the eggs from hatching and lay down a residue to kill more fleas as they emerge from their cocoon. There are also products available to treat areas outside your home as well.
It is important to remember that fleas are not just a simple parasite problem, they are a medical problem. Fleas can cause anemia, allergies, spread multiple diseases, and cause tapeworm infections. It is important to protect you and your pet from these potential problems by eliminating them from your pet and the environment.