Any pet owner who’s had trouble with fleas on a dog or cat knows how quickly an infestation of these pint-sized pests can spiral out of control. But how does it go from one flea to hundreds–even thousands–so quickly? Here’s a breakdown of the flea life cycle from egg to adult:
Eggs are deposited onto the pet and fall into the environment within just a few short hours.
Larvae are maggot-like and roughly 0.5 cm long. They feed on blood in adult flea faeces, organic debris, flea eggshells and other flea larvae. Flea larvae develop outdoors in cool, shady areas—where pets rest— as well as indoors in undisturbed, protected sites such as in carpets, under furniture and along your house or apartment’s skirting boards.
Whitish cocoons can be found in soil, on vegetation, in carpets, under furniture and on animal bedding. Adults emerge about eight days after formation of these cocoons. All fleas usually emerge by day 13, depending on the temperature and relative humidity.
Adults begin feeding immediately when they’re on a pet – usually within three minutes. Egg production begins within 20 to 24 hours of females taking their first blood meal. A single female flea can produce 40 to 50 eggs per day – that’s nearly 3,000 fleas in two months! During the warm summer months, the entire flea life cycle can be completed in two to three weeks.
Myths about fleas
We’ve all heard, or used, these statements:
“We don’t have fleas in our neighbourhood.”
“Fluffy is an inside dog.”
“I’ve never seen a flea on him.”
“I don’t like using chemicals on myself or my pet.”
However, flea infestations can lead to a host of potentially life-threatening diseases so we really do need to take fleas seriously.
1. Even the cleanest homes attract fleas
Fleas are picked up outside of the home and brought inside even the cleanest home without you even knowing it. If a pet has access to a yard, dog parks, nature areas or kennels, he is at risk of picking up these pesky hitchhikers who make the owner’s home their next B&B!
2. An indoor pet is not protected
Many owners say their pets stay indoors and, therefore, are not at any risk of having a parasitic infection. Unless a dog strictly uses pee pads and never goes on a single trip outside the home, he really isn’t an ‘inside’ dog. And even if this is the case, an indoor pet (whether dog or cat), is still at risk for a flea infestation. The chance is obviously lower, but there’s no such thing as zero risk.
3. I don’t see them; they can’t be there
Pet owners not seeing a flea on their pets is often a major contributor to their thinking flea products are not necessary. Unfortunately, a flea problem can manifest before a single flea is even seen on a pet. In the case of cats, which are notorious for their fastidious grooming, fleas might never be seen at all. However, this doesn’t change the statistics. A single adult flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, so it’s easy to see how fast an infestation can start. Once an infestation is present, each pet must be treated along with the home and yard. It is SO much easier preventing fleas than dealing with their consequences.
How to stop the flea lifecycle
There is a preventive that suits you and your pet. Whether you prefer spot-ons to collars or chews to powder, it doesn’t really matter because there are many excellent flea preventives to choose from. Some last for several months. What you choose depends on your lifestyle, your pet’s environment and his age and lifevstage. Your EberVet Vetshop or veterinarian can help you choose the one that’s best for your pet.
Ignoring flea prevention is a very costly mistake because once a flea infestation has taken hold, they’re extremely difficult to get rid of and they pose serious dangers to your pet’s health. Prevention is always better (and cheaper) than cure.