Flea and Tick Prevention
Fleas: The Tiny, Wingless, Itchy Pests
Fleas are not only a nuisance but also may lead to significant health problems. Some pets and people are allergic to the saliva of fleas which leads to significant inflammation and discomfort. Flea infestations can lead to anemia and fleas are also capable of transmitting serious diseases to both pets and people. If ingested fleas can also transmit tapeworms.
The Flea Life Cycle
The type of fleas that infest our pets begin reproduction a day or two after a blood meal. Female fleas lay eggs as they feed and move around on the surface of the skin. A single female flea can produce up to 50 eggs per day. The eggs then fall from the fur and drop onto bedding, carpet, or soil, where they hatch in one to six days.
Newly hatched flea larvae are mobile and free-living, feeding on organic debris found in their environment. Indoors, flea larvae best survive in the protected environment deep within carpet fibers and in cracks between hardwood floor boards where they are hard to reach. The larval stage usually lasts five to eleven days but may be prolonged for two to three weeks, depending on the availability of food and the environmental conditions.
After completing its development, the mature larva produces a silk-like cocoon in which it pupates. The pupa is fully developed in one to two weeks but the adult flea may remain in the cocoon for several weeks (or even up to a year) until a suitable host arrives. When it emerges from the cocoon, it can survive one to two weeks before finding a host on which to feed. This newly emerged, unfed flea will infest a pet or bite people until it finds a suitable pet host. Fleas generally do not leave their host unless forced off by grooming or insecticides.
Depending on temperature and humidity, the entire life cycle of the flea is usually complete within three to eight weeks but can be as short as twelve to fourteen days or as long as three hundred and fifty days.
Our Recommendations for Flea Control:
The prolonged and variable life cycle of fleas makes it difficult to know when it is the “right time” to start and stop flea prevention. It is also very difficult to eliminate fleas once they enter an environment. For these reasons, Lake Ontario Veterinary Clinic recommends year-round flea prevention for all dogs and cats. Even indoor-only cats may find themselves with fleas, especially during the cooler fall months when fleas are more willing to hop on a human to get inside where it's warm.
Ticks: Tiny, Blood Sucking, Disease Spreading Nuisances
In the past twenty years, ticks and the diseases they transmit have increased in number and intensity across North America. Tick control products have been shown to limit the transmission of several important disease agents in both experimental and natural settings. For these reasons, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends that all dogs receive year-round tick control products and that dogs be tested annually for tick-borne diseases.
While cats appear to be relatively resistant to Lyme disease, they can be affected by a number of other tick-borne diseases. Though most of those diseases are not yet found in this area, some are and the ranges of other diseases are often expanding and shifting. Cats can also serve as physical carriers for ticks, bringing disease-infested ticks into your home.
Our Recommendations for Tick Control:
Ticks tend to be most prevalent in the early spring (March to mid-May) and fall (late August to November) but ticks can be found whenever the temperature is above freezing. In Oswego County, ticks may be found at any time of year. For that reason, Lake Ontario Veterinary Clinic recommends year-round tick prevention for all pets with exposure to the outdoors. This includes all cats who are allowed to roam outdoors as they also pose a significant risk to the humans in their households if they bring home disease-infested ticks.