FAQs About Cat and Dog Fleas

What are fleas?

Fleas are very tiny parasitic insects that survive by feeding off the blood of mammals.

What do fleas look like?

Fleas are wingless, usually measure between 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in size, and have six legs that are adapted for jumping. Fleas are able to move through the fur of host animals due to a series of backwards-pointing spines and bristles that make them difficult to remove by grooming.

Flea larvae are an off-white color, legless, and usually no larger than 1/4th of an inch in size.

Can fleas live on people?

While fleas do not normally live on humans, if you handle infested animals, you do risk being bitten by fleas.

Are on the spot flea medications safe?

On the spot medications are are generally safe to use if the instructions are followed exactly. Before applying any on the spot medication to your pet, make sure you have the proper dosage for your pet’s type and weight. Do not use flea medication intended for dogs on your cat; you cat can become severely ill, and possibly die.

Can fleas lay eggs on a human?

No. The cat flea lays eggs on dogs and cats, but not on humans.

How long do flea bites last?

The irritation from a flea bite can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Can dog fleas live on humans?

While dog fleas will not live on humans, they can bite you if you come into contact with a pet that has a flea infestation.

Can cat fleas bite humans?

Yes. Some people may have an allergic reaction to the bite.

Can fleas live in human hair?

Fleas do not normally live in human hair by themselves, but they will often jump off of pets and onto people.

How high can a flea jump?

A flea can can jump up to seven inches high.

What do flea eggs look like?

Flea eggs are about 1/5th of an inch long, oval in shape, and a pearl white in color. The eggs are not sticky to the touch.

Where do fleas live?

Flea larvae can live in cracks and crevices, carpets, and behind baseboards. Adult fleas will live exclusively as parasites on warm blooded animals like your pets.

What does a flea bite look like?

In humans, a flea bite might be confused with a rash. A flea bite will have a small red spot in the middle which is surrounded by a red halo.

In dogs or cats, you may see red inflamed spots throughout its body. Your pet may also bite the base of their tail and scratch frequently, causing bald patches to appear towards the end of the tail.

How long does a flea live for?

Most fleas don’t longer than 100 days, even if they live on a host. Without a host, a flea has no food source, and may die in between 2 to 14 days. The same isn’t true for flea eggs and larvae; they do not require a host and can reach high populations.

How do dogs get fleas?

Dogs get fleas through contact with fleas in the environment, or via contact with other animals as the adult flea jumps from host to host.

Do fleas fly?

No. Fleas are wingless. Instead, fleas rely on powerful legs adapted for jumping to travel from host to host.

How big are fleas?

Most fleas usually measure between 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in size.

Are cat fleas and dog fleas different?

There are two different species of fleas that can infest pets, but even though one type is called a “dog flea”, and one is called a “cat flea” you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart without using a microscope. The most common flea that is found on both dogs and cats is the cat flea.

Do adult fleas jump on and off of animals?

No. Once an adult has found an animal it can feed on, it will stay there in order to feed, mate and lay its eggs.

What is flea dirt?

“Flea dirt” isn’t actually dirt. It’s is dried blood left behind by feeding fleas, and looks like little specks of black pepper.

How do fleas suck blood?

The biting insects have two mouth parts used to suck blood. One mouth part squirts digested blood and saliva into the host, and the other mouth part sucks blood from the host.

Can fleas suck enough blood to kill pets?

Yes. On a rare occasions they suck enough blood to kill puppies, kittens, and even lambs and goats.

How quickly do fleas start feeding once on an animal?

One on an animal, a little over half of these biting insects will feed within 5 minutes. Almost all fleas are engorged with blood within an hour.

How quickly do fleas start laying eggs once on an animal?

Once on an animal, females will lay eggs within 24 to 36 hours after feeding.

At what rate do fleas lay eggs?

These biting insects can lay up to 50 eggs a day.

How quickly do flea eggs hatch?

If the environment has at least 70 percent humidity and an ambient temperature of 95 F, about 50 percent of all eggs will hatch within 30 to 36 hours.

How long is the entire flea life cycle?

The entire life cycle– from egg, larva, pupa, to adult– can take place in as little as 3 weeks.

How do fleas survive the cold winters?

Fleas do not do well in cold temperatures. Adults, eggs, and larvae will die if the temperature falls to 37 F or below for over a week. Even so, fleas have survived up north where winters can be colder than 37 F. They survive by latching onto strays and wild animals like possums and raccoons.

Why do fleas like to be on pets rather than people?

They like to be on pets more than people because most pets have more hair or fur than people. That means there are dark places for the insect to hide.

Are there certain areas of a pet that fleas like more than others?

Yes. Fleas like the top of a pet’s head, the rump, the belly, and the area between the shoulder blades, as these are all places difficult for your pet to reach.

Do fleas transmit diseases?

Yes. Fleas can transmit many infectious diseases such as typhus and the plague, as well as the eggs for other parasites like tapeworms.

What are the various stages of the flea life cycle?

There are four stages in the flea life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Two days after a male and female flea mate, the female flea lays her eggs. Two days after an egg is laid, it hatches. The larva starts to spin a cocoon a week later. This stage of the flea’s life is called the pupa. In a week’s time, the pupa will develop into an adult. It will emerge from the cocoon when it senses vibrations or warmth. The entire life cycle takes about 2 to three weeks, but the pupa can remain dormant for up to a year in its cocoon.

Besides blood, what do fleas eat?

While a flea larva will feed on small debris and droppings from adult fleas, adult fleas themselves only feed on blood.

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