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The scourge of fleas: Take the itch out of your pet's scratching

The scourge of fleas: Take the itch out of your pet's scratching

Pet owners when asked what they most fear about warm times of year invariably identify those pesky little insects: fleas! These insects are dark brown and small and love temperatures in the region of 65 to 80 degrees and humidity levels of between 75 and 85%. Cats and dogs can become infested simply through the contacts they have with the fellow animals, but they can also come across them in their environment - i.e. in the home! The flea's back legs are strong, which means they can leap from animal to animal or from the house onto the pet.

Fleas can't fly

It's worth noting that contrary to a widespread popular belief fleas can't fly - they don't have wings. Whatever, a flea’s bite is going to cause itching or worse. In some flea-allergic pets the itching can be severe and over scratching can lead to inflammation, hair-loss, and secondary skin infections. Some hypersensitive pets can itch all over from just one bite of a single flea!
To identify that it's fleas that cause the itching – formally known as pruritus - have a look to see if you can spot the tiny insects scurrying along your pet's skin surface.

Because fleas don't like light look for them in furry areas and on your pet's inner thighs and tummy. What you are seeking are dark brown colored and sized around the head of a pin.
Alternatively you may come across "flea dirt", which is like specks of pepper on the surface of the skin. This is actually the insect's feces and is made up of blood that has been digested.
Take some of this "dirt" and put it on a damp paper tissue and if the color spreads out like a blood stain, you have identified that your pet has been infested with fleas!

The Life Cycle of a Flea

A flea undergoes many stages in its life cycle: from an egg it becomes a larva or caterpillar, and then it forms itself into a pupa or cocoon, and emerges as a dangerous adult. How long this takes depends on the environmental humidity, temperature, and whether there is a nourishing host like your dog or cat (or even a human) available. A fully grown female flea tends to live for several weeks on her chosen host animal. She will set about sucking the animal’s blood between two and three times daily and she will lay between twenty and thirty eggs every day.

The many hundreds of eggs she lays will tumble off of the host pet into the world around - ending up in the pet's bedding, on the carpet or wherever the animal chooses to spend time.
Tackling the problem There is a wide choice of products to tackle the flea problem available to buy today on the market today.

The newer products are finally cracking the problem and now it is possible to take control by simply treating the pet and not the environment in which he or she lives as well.
Some of the products do no harm to the flea but instead stop the eggs hatching. This means that no reproduction takes place and the flea population will eventually dissipates over time.

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