Fleas are small, brown or black, wingless insects with flattened bodies. Several
types of fleas infest the haircoats of animals, and some may occasionally feed on people.
These blood-sucking insects cause considerable irritation and distress to infested pets.
Severe infestations may lead to anemia from blood loss. Fleas spread the common dog and
cat tapeworm, and carry several viral and bacterial diseases. Flea bites also cause skin
allergies, rashes and sores on both pets and their owners.
The best places to look for fleas on your pet are the hindquarters, base of the
tail, stomach and groin regions. Sometimes no fleas are found but only tiny, black
granules that resemble black pepper. This material is flea feces and consists of digested
blood ("flea dirt"). To distinguish this material from dirt, smudge it on white
paper or add a drop of water to it. If you see a reddish-brown color, your pet has fleas,
even if you can find none.
After taking a blood meal, fleas drop off the animal and deposit their eggs in
cracks, crevices and carpeting. A single breeding pair of fleas may produce 20,000 fleas
in 3 months.
Eggs hatch after 2-12 days into larvae that feed in the environment. Larvae molt 2
times within 2-200 days and the older larvae spin a cocoon in which they remain for 1 week
to 1 year. The long period during which the larvae remain in the cocoon explains why fleas
are difficult to eradicate from the environment. A hungry adult flea emerges from the
Since both your pet and its environment contain fleas in various stages of
development, a flea-control program must consider fleas on the pet and in the environment.
We are all concerned about insecticide exposure to you, your pets and our
environment. The best organic method of flea control is daily use of a flea comb (a
special fine-toothed comb which can be purchased in any pet store) on your pet and
thorough vacuuming of the environment.. Avon Skin So Soft, and brewers yeast/garlic change
the odor of your pet's skin, and will help repel fleas. These natural products however are
not useful in flea infestation.
When using insecticides to eradicate fleas, you must apply them correctly and at
proper intervals. All pets and the environment itself must be treated to eradicate fleas.
In severe infestations, it is advisable to employ a professional exterminator for house
and yard treatment.
The oral insect growth regulator Programr is a unique product designed to prevent
flea infestation. Think of Program as flea birth control. By breaking the flea life cycle
it will prevent infestations in the home. It is not an insecticide and therefore is not
toxic to your pet. It also does not kill fleas. Adult fleas must be controlled using
previously mentioned techniques.
Your veterinarian will help you tailor a flea control program for your individual
situation. If you need to use insecticides be sure to keep them away from children. Read
the container's label carefully when using chemicals and insecticides.
Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that infest most animals and sometimes people.
Their life cycle is complex and involves one or more species of animals as hosts. Female
ticks deposit their eggs in the environment after a blood meal.
Ticks attach to the skin and feed on the animal's blood. Tick bites may become
infected, and some ticks produce a toxin that can cause paralysis and even death. Ticks
also spread several serious diseases of animals and people, such as Lyme
disease, [Use your browser's BACK BUTTON to return to this page] ehrlichiosis,
and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
How to Remove Ticks
If only a few ticks are present on an animal, they may be plucked off individually.
Tweezers should be used to remove the ticks as ticks may carry organisms infectious to
people. To remove a tick, grab the head firmly while gently depressing the skin around the
tick. Pull straight out without twisting. After removing a tick swab the area well with
peroxide or alcohol. A red raised area is normal if the tick was embedded, and does not
mean that your pet will get Lyme disease.
If you are unable to remove the head along with the body of the tick, usually your
pet will eventually eliminate it as it would with any other superficial foreign material.
Watch for any signs of infection, e.g. pain, oozing etc, in the area. Call your
veterinarian if the area looks infected.
Please note: The information provided here is meant to supplement that provided by
your veterinarian. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination
performed by your veterinarian.