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Fleas - How To Defeat Them

Fleas left untreated can make a dog's life utterly miserable. Here are some of the best ways to protect your dog:

Most dog owners absolutely dread summer. With the lovely warm weather also comes the No 1 Canine Enemy - FLEAS.

 

Fleas love high temperatures and bask in the humidity which is why dogs often get infested during the summer months.

 

Here are some amazing facts about fleas:

 

** Every day of her life a female flea will produce her body weight in eggs and drink 15 times her body weight in blood.

 

** Fleas have a horizontal leap of 48cm and a vertical leap of 17cm. This equates to a human of 1.8 metres having a broad jump of 175 metres and a high jump of 60 metres.

 

** The penis of a male flea is one third of it's body length. ( Pretty amazing!)

 

** Once a flea starts feeding on blood it must continue to do so or it will die by digesting it's own gut. This is why fleas rarely jump off their host on to another animal.

 

** The fleas you see on your pet are just 5% of the true population of adults, eggs, larvae and pupae in your environment.

 

** One of the most common problems that fleas can cause is skin irritations.

 

** Apart from causing skin disease, fleas can kill puppies from direct blood loss and are the intermediate host of the common tapeworm of dogs - one that can grow in us too!

 

** Fleas prefer to feed on dogs but will happily dine out on your family and guests.

 

There is only one way to kill fleas and that is to break their life cycle. New adult fleas burst out of their cocoon when they sense pressure, movement, warmth and carbon dioxide. Within a second they have leapt on to their passing meal ticket and start feeding within a minute. Females mate within 1-24 hours and start laying eggs within 1-2 days. In her lifetime over 100 days she may lay more than 2000 eggs.

The eggs are laid on your dog and roll off wherever the dog goes, especially places where your dog sleeps and rests. Depending on the weather it will take 1 to 10 days for the eggs to hatch. Everything speeds up in the warm and humid weather.

A little larva (maggot) emerges from the egg and then like to move away from light and towards the ground while they seek out a feed of anything organic. They will travel up to 1 metre to find the right conditions.

In the house they like to be under the furniture, around the skirting boards and deep in the carpet pile. In the yard they love shaded soil, especially under the house.

After 5-11 days the larva spins a cocoon and pupates through to an adult flea. In ideal conditions new adults can begin to emerge in 5 days but if it is not the right conditions, they may lay dormant biding their time for up to 6 months. Eggs, larvae and pupae will occur in clusters so there will be "pupal nests" where there are a number of adult fleas ready to bursts out of their cocoon and leap onto your dog. Depending on the weather the entire life cycle can be as short as 12 days or as long as 325 days.

There are lots of things you can do around the home to make it tough for fleas. Vacuum inside the home where pets have access to on a regular basis. Pay particular attention to areas near to where your dog sleeps. Wash and air pet bedding reguarly using cold water and you can use a flea rinse in the wash - eggs and larvae are killed by direct sunlight. Clean up organic material in the backyard and block of any access to under your house. Your aim is to stop eggs and larvae developing into pupal nests. Do not allow other "flea bag" dogs onto your property as they will undo all the good work you are doing by dropping flea eggs into your dog's environment. In heavy infestations consider professional pest control, steam cleaning or using flea bombs which can be purchased in your supermarket for an immediate impact. There alot of flea products available that work by killing the flea cycle before they can lay eggs or effectively sterilising the eggs so the life cycle stops and the adults die. These products are not cheap and must be used according to the instructions. When using these products you must:

*Treat every pet dog, cat etc

*Follow the product recommendations regarding bathing especially around treatment times

*Use the correct dose and treatment interval - if you cut corners you will lose the fight

*Expect to see fleas on your dog for a while. Remember 95% per cent of your fleas at your place are not on your dog when you start treatment. Existing eggs, larvae and pupae will complete their life cycle and hatch out their nests for up to 6 months but in time they will all be killed.

*Flea shampoos are good to use but do follow instructions and if you have a puppy please make sure you buy the shampoo suitable to use on puppies. These generally only kill the adult fleas and don't stop the cycle.

Please be patience. If you understand and follow these rules you will get on top of it.