What are Fleas?

Posted on June 12, 2015

Fleas are a blood-feeding parasite that can infest your pet.  Although fleas technically do not infest people, they can bite causing irritation.  Fleas are a common medical issue veterinarians treat.

Pets can suffer greatly from an infestation. Intense itching and even a severe allergic reaction can result.  Pets that are allergic to fleas have severe itching, resulting in continual scratching.  Some pets will scratch and bite themselves continually, causing skin wounds and infection.  It is possible for your pet to have fleas and not scratch.

Outside pets and pets around other pets are at higher risk for an infestation.  However, even an indoor pet can become infested.  Fleas can live an multiply in your home easily, because the temperature and environment is stable.  Fleas can be brought into the home not only on your pet, but also on your own clothing.  The flea can then transfer to your pet as a host for feeding, and lay a large number of eggs that mature into adult fleas.  The flea will remain on your pet, however the eggs and larvae fall off the animal into the home environment.  After maturity, they jump onto the first opportune host to continue the cycle.

Fleas are not always easily visible on a pet.  Sometimes they are found using a flea comb.  The eggs, larvae and pupae are more difficult to find.  “Flea dirt” may be present on the animal or in their bed.  It is feces produced by the flea from digested host blood.  If the speck turns red with a drop of water, it is probably from fleas.