ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Flea Control for Dogs

Updated on April 28, 2011

The flea is any of a large order of wingless parasitic insects, which in the adult stage feed solely on the blood of warm-blooded animals-birds and mammals. In addition to sucking their hosts' blood, fleas may transmit certain disease-causing organisms, including various tapeworms and bacterium causing bubonic plague.

There are about 11,000 species of fleas, making up the order Siphonata of the class Insecta.

Fleas are found throughout the world; about 240 species occur in the United States.

Source

Characteristics of Fleas

The flea's oval body is usually about 1fs inch (3 mm) long. It is flattened from side to side and covered with bristles that point backward, helping the flea to squeeze through the hair or feathers of its host. The flea's legs are strong and the hind legs, which are much longer than the others, are well developed for leaping. Fleas have been known to jump nearly 8 inches (20 cm) high and for distances of about 13 inches (33 cm).

Before a flea jumps, its legs are used to compress highly elastic thoracic pads, which are made of a protein called resilin. A large amount of energy is stored up in this way, enabling the flea in effect to "wind itself up." When the flea jumps, a triggering mechanism releases this energy suddenly so that the insect is "fired" into the air.

Many fleas have a single simple eye (ocellus) on either side of the head, but others have no eyes at all and are blind. The flea's mouthparts are adapted for piercing the skin of a host and sucking its blood. Although many species bite and suck blood from any warm-blooded animal, most fleas tend to parasitize only one type of animal.

Flea Life Cycle

The female flea may lay her eggs on the ground, on the host animal, or in the nest, den, lair, or other sleeping quarters of the host. The eggs are dry and, when deposited on the fur or feathers of the host, roll off onto the ground. The wormlike, legless larvae, which are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long when fully grown, are ringed with groups of long hairs. The larvae scavenge among dust and debris, and an important part of their diet is the dried blood that passes out in the droppings of the adult fleas.

When a larva is fully grown, it spins a silken cocoon covered with dust particles and transforms into a pupa within it. After it has undergone pupation and become an adult, it may remain inside the cocoon until it is disturbed by external vibrations that may indicate the presence of a potential host. This sensitivity to vibrations is a biological adaptation that lessens the risk that the adult flea may emerge at a time when no host is available. It also explains why fleas sometimes appear in large numbers when an empty building is reoccupied. In many species, the adult fleas may live for more than a year.

Important Types of Fleas

Among the most important types of fleas are the human flea, the cat flea, the dog flea, the oriental rat flea, and the chigoe. The human flea, in addition to infesting man, attacks pigs, cats, dogs, foxes, badgers , and other animals. It breeds indoors in places where there are accumulations of dust, and it has spread to all parts of the world.

The cat flea and its close relative the dog flea both serve as intermediate hosts of a tapeworm that infests cats, dogs, and other carnivores.

A number of rat fleas are also 'widely distributed around the world. The most dangerous of these fleas is the oriental rat flea, which can transmit the bacterium that causes bubonic plague. It spreads the bacteria by biting an infected rat and then biting another host. The chigoe is a tropical flea that burrows into the skin of man and other animals.

Controlling Fleas

Fleas can be controlled by thoroughly spraying their breeding areas with insecticides. A person entering a heavily infested area should first spray his shoes and socks with insecticides, and if the fleas hop onto his clothing they can be shaken off.

Veterinary products such as Frontline and Comfortis can be administered to dogs and cats with the effects lasting up to a month.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • vickiturner profile image

      vickiturner 

      8 years ago

      Hi, Longtail. Informative article - I imagine you meant to say the fleas are 1/8" long! Frontline, I'd say is probably the best treatment. It's readily available here in England and it's what I use all the time.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)