What you don’t know about fleas may bother you.

 Texas is blessed with many natural abundances, including fleas! Due to the almost year-round warm Texas climate, fleas in our state are active throughout the year. Should your pet also receive flea prevention year-round? Should your pet receive flea prevention medication at all? The flea life cycle will answer these questions for us.

Fleas do not come in only one flavor. In fact, there are many different types of fleas. By far the most common flea affecting our domestic cats and dogs is Ctenocephalides felis, or the cat flea.

Here is his story:

Mr. Flea loves warm weather, humidity, and his host for dinner. Fleas thrive in temperatures from 70-85 °F and relative humidities from 70-85 %. They obtain nutrition and energy from blood meals of their dog and cat hosts. That’s right, when fleas land on your pet, they eat your pet’s blood.

 This blood meal is digested in the flea’s GI tract and is excreted by the flea in the form of black dirt-like material (“flea dirt” is actually flea poop!) Some of the flea poop stays on your pet and may be mistaken for dirt, and the rest of the flea poop falls off of the pet into the environment. The environment includes your sheets, pillowcases, carpet, wood floors, and anywhere else in your home or yard (even if you are a fastidiously clean person).

Only five out of one hundred fleas are adults. The other ninety-five fleas are baby flea maggot-like larvae, eggs, and pupae! These baby flea stages must feed on the flea poop that drops off of your pet into the environment. This means that if your pet is infected with fleas, you are sharing your home (and your bed) with adult fleas, but MANY more “baby” fleas you can’t even see!

Common flea myths that lead to flea infestations on your pet and in your house:

“Fleas are not a problem if my pet never goes outside.”

In reality, people and/or other pets who walk into and out of a residence track in juvenile and adult flea stages from outside.

Fleas aren’t a problem in the winter.”

Unfortunately, much of Texas does not have severe enough winter temperatures for long enough to prevent fleas in the winter season here, so we have fleas year-round.

“I don’t see any fleas on my pet, so I don’t have a flea problem.”

Fleas are small, and immature flea stages are even smaller. If your pet is not on regular flea prevention prescribed by your veterinarian, you and your pet likely have some level of flea infestation.