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Posted on 03-02-2012

Everyone knows about fleas, those pesky little creatures that feed off our beloved pet's blood and make our skin crawl thinking about them living in our homes.  However, few people truly understand the flea and it's life cycle, making eradication of them from our lives and homes difficult.iStock_000002315419XSmall_1.jpg

The flea life cycle contains 4 stages: adult, egg, larvae, and pupae.  When one envisions fleas, they typically only think of the adult flea as this is the portion of the life cycle that is readily visible on our pets and in our environment.  However, this portion of the life cycle only makes up 5% of the total flea population in our homes.  The other 95% (eggs, larvae, and pupae) are invisible to us and often ignored when it comes to treatment.  Adult fleas feed on our pet's blood.  This feeding can result in skin irritation and itching.  However, the vast majority of pets have no visible reaction and are not outwardly bothered by their fleas.  This often results in flea infections going on for weeks to months before being discovered!  Plus, one adult flea can lay up to 2000 eggs over this time.  While feeding on blood, the adult flea is laying these eggs on our pets.  As our pets walk around, these eggs roll off their hair to hatch in the environment.  Eggs in the environment can mature and hatch in as little as 2 weeks, or stay dormant up to 1 year depending on temperature, movement, and carbon dioxide production.  Once eggs hatch, they mature into larvae.  These larvae are mobile and sticky making them very difficult  to remove with vacuuming.  They will migrate away from light (under furniture, deep into the carpet fibers, etc.) making them very resistant to flea bombs and exterminator sprays.  While in the environment these larvae feed on flea feces (digested blood) that has fallen off our pets and on debris in the carpets.  Larvae then mature into pupae.  Pupae form a protective cocoon which will shield them from the effects of any of our treatment while maturing into adult fleas.

When trying to rid our pets and our environment from fleas, it is very important to take this life cycle into account.  Each stage of the life cycle must be treated in order to be successful.  Topical medication has become very successful in killing adult fleas.  However, this will only take care of 5% of the problem.  Until these fleas are dead, they can continue to lay eggs that develop into larvae, pupae, and more adults in the environment (the other 95% of the problem).  Therefore, we must combine our treatment with topical medications to kill adult fleas with additional products that keep the eggs, larvae, and pupae from surviving in the environment.

The dedicated doctors and staff at Eagle Animal Hospital have formulated a specific treatment plan that incorporates safe, effective topical medications to treat the adult fleas on your pet, as well as safe, effective systemic medications to prevent the flea eggs, larvae, and pupae from surviving in your environment.  With this effective protocol, we can help you and your pets get rid of fleas and remain flea free in the future.

Please call Eagle Animal Hospital at 610-458-8789, or visit our website at eagleanimalvet.com, for more information on how to treat your pets for fleas. We serve Chester Springs, Exton, Downingtown, Phoenixville, and Glenmoore.

Written by David Matunis VMD

Veterinarian at Eagle Animal Hospital

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