The world is host to over 2,000 species of flea, and they’re a problem almost everywhere. Most common is Ctenocephalides felis, the "cat flea". Despite its name, the cat flea affects both dogs and cats, and wild animals such as rats and possums – and can be unpleasant for their owners, too.
When a flea jumps onto your pet, it will start feeding within 5 minutes and may suck blood for up to 2½ hours. Female fleas are the most voracious, consuming up to 15 times their own body weight in blood. And a single flea can live on your dog or cat for almost 2 months!
Experts in multiplication
Flea infestations can rapidly get out of control. That’s because fleas lay eggs in such large numbers. At a rate of 40 to 50 per day for around 50 days, a single female can produce 2,000 eggs.
Huge numbers of newly developed adult fleas can then remain dormant inside pupae or cocoons in your home for weeks to months. Only when conditions are right—a combination of heat, carbon dioxide and movement—will they emerge from these cocoons as young and hungry adult fleas, which will infest your pet.
A threat that’s more than skin-deep
Simple itching caused by fleas can be irritating enough for a dog or cat. But fleas can cause more serious health problems too.
Some pets develop severe allergies to flea bites (called flea allergy dermatitis) and develop signs, such as itching, that may last long after the fleas have gone. Fleas are also responsible for transmitting the dog tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) to dogs, cats and even humans. In addition, fleas can spread bacterial diseases too.