Fleas are skin parasites that afflicts all mammals, including humans.
They feed on their host's blood and, besides causing him discomfort, they can even cause anemia, when in high numbers, and allergic reactions to susceptible animals.
There are four phases to fleas life cycle : the egg, the larva, the pupa (cocoon) and the adult phase. Only the latter lives on the animal, the other forms are found in the environment.
Fleas present on the animal take their first blood meal twenty four hours after having jumped on the animal and the females lay eggs, up to fifty per day, twelve hours later.
The eggs fall in the environment, hatch and free larvas that continue their development by eating organic debris. They seek shelter in the floor cracks, in the carpets, in the linen, etc and mutate three times. During this last mutation, larvas surround themselves by a cocoon in which they become pupas and then adult fleas.
Many factors influence the amount of time it takes for a flea to become an adult, for example the ambiant temperature, the humidity and the season. In ideal conditions, the cycle can be completed in only two weeks.
Adult fleas can live for months on the animal and up to twelve months in their cocoons.
The diagnostic is confirmed by the observation of adult fleas in the animal's fur or of their stools, which typically look like small black comas that turn red when wet and crushed with a finger.
If needed, a certain number of parasites can be eliminated by vacuuming everywhere. The vacuum bag must be taken outside immediately afterwards to prevent fleas from contaminating the house again.
There are also products that can be applied in the house that help diminish the amount of eggs and larvas. However, since these products are powerful insecticides, it is important that every person and pet living in the house go outside during treatment.
Also, these products should never be used when there are pregnant or breastfeeding women in the house, nor young children and people suffering from respiratory ailments, etc.
To treat a flea infestation, we generally administer an oral medication that will kill the adult fleas on the animal in just a few hours.
The treatment is then completed with a systemic product given every month for at least four months (six months in severe cases) to get rid of the eggs and larvas present in the environment.
Of course, all the animals in the house must be treated at the same time, even if they don't seem to be infested.
If needed, a vacuum cleaner can also be used to eliminate a certain number of them, but the bag must be taken outside the house immediately afterwards to prevent another contamination.
There are also products available that can be applied in the environment to help rapidly reduce the number of eggs and larvas present.
To prevent cats that go outside from catching fleas, it is generally recommended to treat them preventively every month from spring to fall.
Please consult one of our staff members for guidance on the various products that are effective and safe for your companion.
It must be remembered though that even cats that don't go outside can catch fleas!