My pet has fleas and ticks! What should I do?
Successful flea and tick control involves both eliminating fleas and ticks from your dog and controlling fleas and ticks in your environment. Dogs and cats share the same fleas, and fleas can travel from one animal to another. Thus, it is important that all pets in your home are on a flea and tick preventive program.
What is the life cycle of the flea?
There are four distinct life stages. Stage one is the flea egg. Stage two is the flea larvae. Stage three is the flea pupae. The final stage is the adult flea. Two days after a female flea has her first blood meal she begins the egg production. In normal circumstances the adult female will live up to three weeks, laying approximately 40 eggs per day. The entire life cycle, from egg to adult flea can be completed in as little as 14-28 days depending on environmental conditions.
One interesting fact about fleas is when they are in the pupae stage they do not emerge from the cocoon unless stimulated by physical pressure, vibrations, carbon dioxide or heat. This is important because a pre-emergent adult flea can survive in the cocoon for up to 9 months. During this time they are resistant to insecticides applied to the environment. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to give a monthly preventative to your pet.
What is the life cycle of Ticks?
Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host, which can be animal or human. Ticks are efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks take several days to complete feeding.
Ticks also have four distinct life stages. Stage one is the egg. Stage two is the six-legged larva. Stage three is the eight-legged nymph. The final stage is adult. Adult ticks seek host animals and after engorgement on blood, they quickly mate. Male ticks usually die after mating, although some may continue to live for several months. Females die soon after laying their 3,000 to 6,000 eggs in protected habitats on the ground. After the egg hatches, the tiny larva feeds on an appropriate host. The larva develops into a larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into an even larger adult. Male and female adults feed and mate on the host: the female falls to the ground to lay her eggs, continuing the life cycle; that can require as little as 2 months!
In Southern Florida it is important to protect your pet against fleas and ticks all year long. It is easier to prevent rather than treat. Seiler Animal Hospital carries a full line of flea and tick prevention products. We will be happy to assist you in choosing the right product for your pet.
Courtesy of Douglas A. Thieme, DVM
Seiler Animal Hospital 2650 NE 57th Street Fort Lauderdale, Florida