Get to Know the Flea
The flea is a small brown insect measuring about 1-4 mm that is very annoying to your pet. Fleas are difficult to find because they move quickly. However, it is possible to detect them by the small black particles found in the pet's coat; these particles are flea excrement or more specifically dried blood, since fleas feed off your pet's blood. After crushing the excrement on a wet white piece of paper, a reddish line will appear and confirm that your animal has fleas. A flea has long powerful legs made for jumping, but it does not have wings.
Flea bites cause itching, a slight irritation and hair loss. A large infestation can cause anemia, especially with puppies; it can also transmit tapeworm eggs, dipylidium caninum. When a flea bites your pet, it injects a small quantity of saliva in the skin to prevent blood coagulation; some animals are hypersensitive to this saliva. An allergy to flea bites can cause important dermatitis and severe itching, and this with even a single flea!
The Flea's Life Cycle
The flea's development takes place in various stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, adults. The adult flea uses your pet to feed itself with its blood and to reproduce. Fleas lay 30 to 50 eggs per day and deposit them directly on your animal. The eggs fall on the ground and release larvae that hide in the darkness, in the carpet and floor cracks. The larvae ingest flea excrement, scales and organic matter. They spin a cocoon in a safe place and develop into pupae; at this stage, the pupa can remain dormant for months. It will only come out from its cocoon in adult form when in the presence of a dog or a cat; the flea will jump on your pet and the cycle will start all over again!