The flea is an external parasite that lives off the blood of mammals and birds. Due to the incredible ability to reproduce geometrically, populations are hard to control and eliminate without first understanding their life cycle.
There are four unique stages of growth: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.
From Scratching to Allergies, Anemia, and Possibly Tapeworms
When fleas bite your small breed dog, saliva may be deposited in the skin. The saliva may irritate your pet and cause severe itching. Although this condition is not really a disease, it can be very uncomfortable for your dog.
Anemia generally occurs in very young, ill, or elderly pets due to a large population of fleas reducing the host’s blood supply. Anemia can be fatal if not treated in a timely manner.
Fleas can transfer tapeworms, an internal parasite that lives in the intestine. Tapeworms can also live inside of humans. That is another excellent reason to ensure your pets are free of fleas!
Protect your dog, your family, and your home from flea infestation by following these steps:
- Keep your grass mowed short.
- Vacuum your carpets and furniture often.
- Use a flea comb to check your pets regularly for flea dirt. The presence of flea dirt means you have fleas, even if you have not seen them.
- Treat your pets with flea medications flea medications designed to interrupt the life cycle of the flea. You can possibly keep up with the geometric growth of the flea population.
Use flea dips, powders, sprays, and shampoos with caution. Many of them may be harmful to your pet. Manual removal and life cycle interruption are the least invasive and most effective means to control and eradicate a flea population.
The Life Cycle
An adult female can lay up to 50 eggs per day and nearly 2000 eggs in her lifetime. She cannot lay any eggs until she has her first blood meal. Then, she will begin laying eggs within 48 hours.
Although some eggs will remain on your dog, many of them will fall off into the sleeping or living areas of your pet. They will fall off onto carpet, furniture, your bed, the lawn, and other areas of your home.
Larvae & Pupa
In only two to five days, the eggs hatch. The resulting larvae seek out dark areas to further develop.
The larvae live off “flea dirt” which is the excrement of blood from adult fleas. They molt twice and then, spin a cocoon to grow into pupae over the next eight or nine days.
The fully developed adult breaks out of its cocoon when it detects a host nearby. Fleas detect their hosts through vibrations, heat, and even carbon dioxide levels!
After emerging from the protection of their cocoons, they mate and begin the life cycle again. The entire life cycle can be as short as three weeks long.