Fleas: What Exactly Are They?

Fleas are bloodsucking creatures that feed on warm blooded creatures like animals and their unaware owners. Fleas are equipped with longer hind legs, which aids in their ability to easily jump from host to host; something fleas are commonly known for. With a tube like mouth designed for feeding on the blood of their host, fleas are one of the most contemned insects we currently deal with. Female fleas can consume 15 times her weight in blood in one day. Blood that is not completely digested is secreted from the fleas and dries to form what we know as "flea dirt". Female fleas will begin laying eggs, approximately 2,000 eggs in her lifetime, within 24-48 hours of the first feeding from their host, beginning the dreaded flea life cycle. This is also where the infestation can spread, a dog with fleas can unknowingly disperse the eggs from the adult fleas,usually throughout your house. With the right environmental conditions flea larvae will begin to hatch in one to six days. Flea larvae develop by surviving on flea feces ("flea dirt"). With adequate food supply, flea larvae will begin to weave a cocoon, known as pupal casing, this is the stage in which the larvae transforms into the adult flea. With the right conditions the adult fleas then emerge from their casing with a limited time frame to find a host to feed. After the adult fleas find a blood meal, reproduction takes place starting a new cycle.

Fleas and The Problems They Create

Although the most commonly noticed sign caused by fleas is scratching and biting, these are just minor issues that may arise. Many pet owners are under educated in the serious health problems that are associated with fleas. Listed below are just a few of the concerning problems that pet owners should be aware of.

Tapeworms

Studies show that fleas have been known to carry tapeworms. If an animal mistakenly ingest a flea carrying a tapeworm they are at greater risk of being infected with tapeworms, causing weight loss and diarrhea. Not only is your pet at risk, tapeworms can be contagious to you and your family.

Infection

Fleas cause pets to scratch continually, something that can leave an open wound on the skin. This only makes your pet more susceptible to infections carried by fleas.

Anemia

This is a problem that can be severe or even deadly if left untreated. This is a problem seen more in situations with severe infestation of fleas. With the fleas consuming a large amount of blood, the great deal of blood loss can quickly lead to anemia, which should be addressed immediately.