Now that the summer Olympics in China are over and all the medals have been awarded there is one athlete that was not included in the competition that would have put us all to shame. Size for size, weight for weight the flea would easily have won the gold medal for the broad jump. This creature has been measured to jump as much as three feet. In addition, as a measure of endurance the flea can survive six months without food, can lay up to 100 eggs at a time and is tuff to kill due to its hard outer shell. The flea is also capable of adapting rather quickly to almost any type of environment.
The flea is resourceful and will take a blood meal from almost any warm blooded species in order to survive. The body heat and the carbon dioxide level that is emitted by the host is the main attraction for the flea. This means that certain people as well as certain pets may be particularly attractive to the flea while others are not. The flea is second only to mosquitoes when it comes to being the worst carrier of infectious diseases. The most famous historical example of disease was the Bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, which was spread from the fleas of infected rats. In today’s world the flea is most likely to spread the tapeworm egg.
The flea is an example of an ectoparasite, which means it is a creature that feeds off the outside of another animal. Fleas often come from wild animals and later jump onto your pet for a ride or to take a meal. Most cats do not scratch when a flea bites them because they are not allergic to the saliva of the flea. Many owners don’t know that their cat has fleas until the flea jumps onto them by mistake. Even 100% indoor pet’s can have fleas because they can hitch a ride on your clothing without you knowing it.
Conversely, most dogs are allergic to the flea saliva and thus will scratch frequently, making their owners more aware of a flea problem. There is both an immediate and a delayed hypersensitivity reaction to the flea bite. The intensity of the reaction has been equated to what you and I might feel if we are allergic to poison ivy. It is therefore not surprising that some pets literally tear their fur out when they have been bitten by a flea.
There are still many questions to be answered, such as, Why do fleas like it best on the hind end of the pet? Fortunately, we now have an exceptionally safe and effective product called Top Spot® Frontline that is very effective in removing the adult flea from anywhere on the pet. Your veterinarian is truly a flea expert and should be consulted. Please note that fleas will not disappear until after Thanksgiving, so keep on protecting your pet.