Fleas are small, wingless parasites. Fleas bite and suck blood from the cat /dog to feed themselves similar to the way a mosquito does, and fleas can survive for months to a year without a host for example in your couch or carpeting. If your cat/dog has fleas these fleas will lay eggs loosely in your cat's/dog's fur, this means that a good number of them will fall out where your cat/dog sleeps, eats, and plays. If your cat/dog has fleas, so does your home which means that both need to be treated.
Fleas prefer temperatures of around 70 degrees (fahrenheit) with medium to high humidity, which just happens to be a typical home environment.
If you see even a few fleas in your home or on your pet, chances are that there are many, many more that you can't see. And as a female flea can lay approximately 20 eggs a day.... your flea number can rise quickly .
If you notice your pet scratching the same area frequently or suspect fleas the best way to check for fleas is to look for flea droppings. It can look like tiny pieces of black dust cat's/dog's coat. If you have a dark haired cat/dog and can't see if there is dirt or not try brushing or combing your pet. Then check the coat for flea droppings. A flea dropping if you place on a damp cloth will turn to what looks like blood because that's what they live on. If you suspect your cat/dog has fleas call your vet. As fleas feed on your cat's/dog's blood it won't take long for your cat/dog (especially a kitten/pup) to become weak and anemic, and flea infestation can lead to other more serious problems. Cats/dogs can even develop an allergic reaction to the flea's saliva. This can lead to a form of Dermatitus.
Biting or scratching of areas of the body
Black or red 'dirt' on your pets skin and/or coat
Even though there are a lot of over-the-counter medications for fleas, the best thing to do if you suspect fleas is to take your cat/dog to the vet. Especially if you have a kitten/pup. Your vet may approve a flea medication. such as Frontline.
Remember the best way to combat fleas is to contact your vet and to have him recommend a course of treatment.
There are a number of over the counter sprays and medications you can use to treat and prevent flea infestations but they are not as effective as the one from the vet and many are hazardous as they contain Permethrin which in large doses can be toxic to some other animals and dangerous for youn children.
Always read the label carefully before giving any non-vet recommended product to your cat/dog.
Also don't forget to de-flea your home.
Adult fleas lay all of their eggs (up to 50 per day) on the pet. However, the eggs soon fall off the animal into carpeting, beneath the cushions of furniture, and wherever else the pet rests, sleeps or spends most of its time After hatching, flea eggs develop into tiny, worm-like larvae. Larvae remain hidden deep in carpet fibers, beneath furniture cushions and in other protected areas. The larvae feed mainly on adult flea feces (dried blood) which accumulates, along with the eggs, in pet resting and activity areas Before becoming adult fleas, the larvae transform into pupae within a silk-like cocoon. Pupae remain inside the cocoon for 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes
longer. The cocoon is resistant to insecticides and this is why some adult fleas are seen for an extended period, even after the home and pet are treated.
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.
vacuming removes many of the eggs, larvae and pupae developing within the home. Vacuming 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 fibres where the developing fleas live. Vacuum thoroughly, especially in areas where pets rest or sleep.
Don't forget to vacum along edges of rooms and beneath furniture, cushions, beds, and throw rugs. After vacuuming, seal the vacum bag in a garbage bag and discard it in an outdoor trash container.
Insecticide Application - Once fleas become established in a home, insecticides are almost always needed to control them. Always read and follow label directions on the insecticide container.
Other than the person performing the application, people and pets should be out of the house during treatment. People and pets should also remain off treated surfaces until the spray has
dried. This may take several hours, depending on carpet type, ventilation and method of application. Opening windows and running the fan or air conditioner after treatment will enhance
drying and minimize odor.
It is essential that the application be thorough and include all likely areas of flea development. Carpets, throw rugs, under and behind beds and furniture, and beneath cushions on
which pets sleep should all be treated. Pay particular attention to areas where pets spend time or sleep, as these will be the areas where most flea eggs, larvae and pupae will be concentrated.
For example, if the family cat sleeps within a closet, or hides under the bed, these areas must be treated or the problem will continue. Hardwood and tile floors generally do not require
treatment, but should be thoroughly vacumed.
Expect to see some fleas for 2 weeks or longer following treatment. Provided all infested areas were treated initially, these "survivors" are probably newly emerged adults which have not yet succumbed to the insecticide. Instead of retreating the premises immediately, continue to vacum.
As noted earlier, vacuuming stimulates the insecticide-resistant pupae to hatch, bringing the newly emerged adults into contact with the insecticide sooner. Flea traps, such as those utilizing a light and glue board to attract and capture adult fleas, can be helpful but will not eliminate a flea infestation unless used in combination with other methods. If adult fleas
continue to be seen beyond 2-4 weeks, retreatment of the premises (and pet) may be necessary.
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.
Note : You should never give flea medication for dogs to your cat, even in small dosages. You should never give your cat a flea medication containing Permethrin. Permethrin is found in spot killing flea treatments, mainly for dogs. Permethrin is toxic to cats, even in small amounts. Never use a product that is more than 45% Permethrin on your feline. Also make sure to not use Permethrin products on your dog if you have a cat in the house. This way your cat won't inadvertently come in contact with the product. Products containing Pyrethrin and Phenothrin have also been shown to possibly have adverse reactions in cats when taken in moderate to high dosages. Only use an over-the-counter product if it specifically says it is 'designed for cats and kittens' and if you have any questions about the main ingredient in an over-the-counter flea medication SEE YOUR VET.
Make sure to groom your pet and look for fleas often.
I personally use Frontline given by my Vet and one dose lasts up to one month. It is placed on the skin and therefore I don't need flea collars ect. Also I know that once dry it is safe for young children to handle the cat/dog. Not always the case with flea collars.