What exactly are fleas and what do they do?

Fleas are potentially life-threatening pests for your pets

Flea control and flea removal is commonly discussed, but what exactly are fleas? And what effect can they have on your pets? Well, a flea is a very small, wingless insect that uses its piercing mouth to suck blood from its host. Fleas are commonly referred to as parasites, as they need blood from their hosts to stay alive. Optimum conditions for a flea ranges somewhere between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The most common flea is the cat flea, which is known to affect dogs, cats and humans. 

Possibly the most frightening thing about fleas is the rate at which they can multiply. Female fleas begin to produce eggs just 24 to 48 hours after their first blood meal, and can lay up to 50 eggs per day. The female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in its lifetime. This ability to multiply is precisely why flea removal needs to happen in the early stages of an infestation, before it gets out of control. 

The dangers of fleas
Considering these facts, it may seem as if fleas might just be an annoyance and nothing else, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Many pets develop an allergy to flea saliva, called flea allergic dermatitis, early in their life. Once in contact with fleas, the pet will suffer severe itching of the skin. If he or she can't stop scratching inflicted areas on its skin, the pet may develop a skin infection.

It doesn't stop at itching, either. Smaller pets, if a flea infestation is left untreated long enough, can suffer from anemia as a result of the blood loss.

Prevent and rid fleas from your pet
First off, checking your pet frequently for fleas is the first step to preventing an infestation before it has a chance to take root. A fine-toothed comb is the perfect tool for combing through your pet's fur and checking for the miniscule pests. 

There are also products designed to repel fleas from your dog or cat. For example, Hartz® UltraGuard Plus® Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs kills and repels fleas for up to seven months. It also prevents flea eggs for up to seven months, so the risk of reinfestation is greatly minimized. 

This content is provided by the flea and tick experts at Hartz. We believe in offering safe, effective and affordable parasite prevention for every dog and cat.