HEALTH MATTERS – Fleas

Summertime is great for dog walking. But beware, warmer weather means fleas hatch out looking for a host. The flea has four parts to his life cycle, which starts when an adult flea lays eggs on a host animal.

  • The egg is deposited anywhere, on the grass, in bedding, upholstery, carpeting, cracks in the floor.
  • Eggs hatch into larva and develop where they landed, feeding on whatever organic material they find, such as skin scales and adult flea faeces.
  • After moulting twice, the larvae grow and form a cocoon or pupa, hatching when the environmental conditions are right and a host is available.
  • Vibrations, heat and exhaled carbon dioxide signal it’s time to emerge from the cocoon so the adult flea emerges and jumps onto an available host to begin the cycle again.

Fleas love temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 – 26 degrees Celsius). Pupae can remain dormant for up to 30 weeks and adults can emerge within two weeks or delay as long as 50 weeks. They can also overwinter if it doesn’t get too cold. A flea can jump up to 8 inches high, or approximately 150 times its own height. That’s like if you could leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Some dogs may develop an allergy to flea saliva, which causes severe irritation and itchiness. The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily and can lay 2,000 eggs in a lifetime.

In white dogs flea dirt is quite obvious in the coat, you will see dark black specks by the skin. If you put the dark specs on white paper and wet them, they will turn a deep red colour. You may also be able to see a flea run through the coat close to the skin. Seek advice from your vet about regular flea & worm treatments.