Thursday, February 16, 2017

Health Care and Fleas

Sometimes a dog just has to scratch. But people shouldn’t be doing the same, especially if your dog has fleas, or if your home all of a sudden has an infestation of those pesky little bugs. They seem to be everywhere once they show up, and it feels like they multiply like…. Well, like fleas!

Fleas are small flightless insects that form the order Siphonaptera. As external parasites of mammals and birds, they live by consuming the blood of their hosts. Adults are up to about 3 mm long and usually brown. Covered with microscopic hair and are compressed to allow for easy movement through animal fur.

According to Orkin, the pest control company, adult fleas are parasites that draw blood from a host. Larvae feed on organic debris, particularly the feces of adult fleas, which contain undigested blood. Fleas commonly prefer to feed on hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice and other domesticated or wild animals. Fleas do not have wings, although they are capable of jumping long distances. Eggs are not attached to the host. Eggs will hatch on the ground, in rugs, carpet, bedding, upholstery or cracks in the floor. Most hatch within two days.

Fleas depend on a blood meal from a host to survive, so most fleas are introduced into the home via pets or other mammal hosts. Orkin reports that on some occasions, fleas may become an inside problem when the host they previously fed on is no longer around. Then fleas focus their feeding activity on other hosts that reside inside the home. An example of such a situation is when a mouse inside the home is trapped and removed, the fleas that previously fed on the mouse are then forced to feed on pets or people. Much more detail on this issue can be found at this site: http://www.orkin.com/other/fleas/ .

According to this website, https://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/fleas.htm , most of the time, fleas prefer nonhuman source for feeding, but if infestations are heavy, or when other hosts are not available, fleas will feed on humans. Fleas usually require warm and humid conditions to develop. A flea can jump 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally with their long and powerful legs. A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. Sometimes these sores bleed.

Due to the flea life cycle (complete metamorphosis) and feeding habits, many people don't realize they have a flea problem until they are away from their house for an extended period. The flea problem is discovered, because the fleas get hungry while the hosts (you and your pets) are away. When you return, they become highly active because they are looking for food.

People tend to think putting the pet outside will solve the flea problem, but that typically makes the fleas turn to human hosts instead. There are several types of fleas, but the most common is the cat flea, which also feeds on dogs and humans. Fleas are attracted to body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide. The best time to start a flea control program is in the late spring, prior to an infestation, since adult fleas comprise only 5% of the total flea population. To contain an active flea infestation, fleas must be controlled at every stage.

When pet owners are asked what they dread most about the summer months, the topic that invariably comes up most is fleas! Fleas on dogs and cats! These small dark brown insects prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent -- so for some areas of the country they are more than just a "summer" problem.

How do you know if fleas are causing all that itching – formally known as pruritus? Generally, unlike the burrowing, microscopic Demodex or Scabies Mites, fleas can be seen scurrying along the surface of the skin. Dark copper colored and about the size of the head of a pin, fleas dislike light so looking for them within furry areas and on the pet's belly and inner thighs will provide your best chances of spotting them. A lot of additional information about fleas and how to treat them is found at this website: http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_fleas_on_dogs_and_what_you_can_do_about_them .

Fleas are tiny, irritating insects, according to HealthLine. Their bites are itchy and sometimes painful, and getting rid of them is hard. Sometimes professional pest control treatment may be required. Fleas reproduce quickly, especially if you have pets in the household. But even if you don’t have pets, your yard can potentially play host to fleas, and you may end up with a bunch of mysterious bites. For more details, visit this website: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/flea-bites .

According to the University of Kentucky School of Entomology, if you neglect to treat the pet's environment (the premises), you will miss more than 90% of the developing flea population -- the eggs, larvae and pupae. If the pet spends time indoors, the interior of the home should also be treated. Before treatment, the pet owner should:

·         Remove all toys, clothing, and stored items from floors, under beds, and in closets. This step is essential so that all areas will be accessible for treatment.
·         Remove pet food and water dishes, cover fish tanks, and disconnect their aerators.
·         Wash, dry-clean or destroy all pet bedding.
·         Vacuum! -- vacuuming removes many of the eggs, larvae and pupae developing within the home. Vacuuming also stimulates pre-adult fleas to emerge sooner from their insecticide-resistant cocoons, thus hastening their contact with insecticide residues in the carpet. By raising the nap of the carpet, vacuuming improves the insecticide's penetration down to the base of the carpet fibers where the developing fleas live. Vacuum thoroughly, especially in areas where pets rest or sleep. Don't forget to vacuum along edges of rooms and beneath furniture, cushions, beds, and throw rugs. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and discard it in an outdoor trash container. 

It is important that the pet be treated in conjunction with the premises, preferably on the same day. Adult fleas spend virtually their entire life on the animal -- not in the carpet. Untreated pets will continue to be bothered by fleas. They may also transport fleas in from outdoors, eventually overcoming the effectiveness of the insecticide applied inside the home. Much more detailed info on this subject is located here: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef602 .

Both indoor and outdoor areas can be sprayed with insecticides to eliminate fleas, if necessary. According to this website, http://www.petsandparasites.org/dog-owners/fleas/, treatment of your home or yard is best performed by a trained pest control expert. Consult with your veterinarian as to which flea products will break the flea life cycle in the environment. Most flea problems can be managed by treating and preventing fleas on your pet. It is important to keep in mind that flea problems may be different from pet to pet or between households, and each problem may require a special method of control.

See your veterinarian for advice on your specific situation. Your veterinarian can recommend safe and effective products for controlling fleas and can determine exactly what you need. Your veterinarian can also determine whether you should consult with a pest control specialist about treating your home and yard.

There are both chemical and natural ways to treat fleas, and for those who are more inclined to treat flea infestation naturally, fleas in the home can be easily and effectively eradicated without the use of poisons. The age-old scourge of fleas, usually associated with pet dogs or cats, can affect any home. And while chemical-based flea treatments can be effective, they may pose health hazards to occupants as well as pets. Natural and non-toxic flea control methods, such as Diatomaceous Earth, and electric flea traps, are safer options.

Surveys show that as many as 50% of American families report using some kind of flea and tick control product on pets, exposing millions of children to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Initial research also shows that thousands of pets may be sickened or die each year as a result of chronic low-dose exposure to organophosphate-based insecticides through their flea and tick collars.

But while there are countless stories of pets, and even people, who have suffered the ill effects of flea treatments, finding alternatives can be a problem for most people. For a significant amount of information about natural applications to treat an infestation of fleas, visit this website: http://eartheasy.com/live_natural_flea_control.html .

Fleas are a common problem if you have pets. Getting ahead of the problem with preventive measures to kill and control fleas is the best way to avoid a much bigger issue for both your pets and your family and home. Use quality products and have regular veterinarian visits to make sure your pets and family are well and remain free from this itchy, and sometimes dangerous,  situation.


Until next time.

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