Were you wondering what Rugby was doing at the vet's office?
We had a flea scare last week. I think we are out of the woods now. I feel confident enough that he is rid of those parasites that I have started taking him back out in public without worrying about him spreading eggs around. In our slight panic attack, we did a LOT of reading about fleas. Here is what we found out.
Before we start, you should know that the most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea. Also known as Ctenocephalides felis. (Another reason dogs are better than cats.... just kidding. Kind of.)
1) Fleas can jump 7 inches high and 13 inches long.
Rugby is 9 inches high and 11 inches long. That means they can jump on him from a full body length away! That is amazing!
2) A female flea lays about 20 eggs a day.
That means if you let them go untreated, fleas will increase exponentially in your home. UC Davis lists them as 1/32 of an inch long, small enough to find their way into the depths of your carpet.
3) Going from an egg to an adult flea can take up to two weeks (with a larvae stage in between).
That means even if you kill the adult fleas, if you don't get rid of the eggs you will have the problem again the next week.
4) Flea larvae, like butterflies, build cocoons to grow up in.
They can live in these cocoons for up to a FULL YEAR! Flea larvae also need 70-75% humidity to grow. So if you have a dehumidifier, you can do a great deal to stop the life cycle of a flea.
5) Vacuuming kills 96% of fleas.
But it needs to be done frequently. Remember to move furniture too. Fleas are very mobile.
Hink WF, NeedhamGR. 2007. Vacuuming is lethal to all postembryonic life stages of the cat flea,Ctenocephalides felis. Entomologia Experimentalis Et Applicata 125(2):221-222.
6) There are two flea hormones used in some flea control products that will stop the growth of eggs and larvae.
Ohio State calls them insect growth regulators. Click on the link to read more.
Rugby didn't have an infestation yet, but a few (<10) were having a feast of Rugby blood. Luckily, Rugby gets groomed often and we caught them before they got out of hand. So what did we do with Rugby?
1) Rugby got a bath with flea shampoo.
He got a bath last Sunday, then again on Wednesday. I only found a total of a bout 15 fleas on him from both baths. Maybe my panic attack was premature, but better safe than sorry.
2) Salted the carpets and vacuumed.
Salt sprinkled over your carpets is supposed to dehydrate any fleas living there. You are supposed to leave the salt there for an extended period of time. We only did it for 3-4 hours. We did this every other day last week.
3) Washed all the blankets, dog beds, sheets, pillow cases, etc.
It took forever to do ALL the bedding at once, but it was worth it.
4) Spray the furniture, and carpets with a product that contains insect growth regulators.
The sprays you find at the pet store or grocery store have these hormones as the active ingredient. I don't know which ones are more effective than the others. I picked one at random. I sprayed the couches and carpets after vacuuming each day.
5) Fed Rugby Capstar Flea Tablets.
I gave two of these to him, two days in a row. I didn't see any fleas on him those days and haven't since. This was a decision we made with the vet. These pills, combined with the baths and the salting, vacuuming, and laundering should be sufficient to rid Rugby of his fleas.
6) Continue feeding Flea Treats.
Flea treats are just beef flavored vitamin B complexes that I feed to Rugby twice a day. It is supposed to keep the fleas (and ticks) off of him. It has for the past three years. Except this time. Now I'm confused. The vet says its been a bad flea year and that even dogs that use spot-on preventatives have gotten fleas. Does that mean it works only when it isn't a "bad year" or that it just doesn't work. I'll give it another shot. If nothing else, Rugby does enjoy this little treat throughout the day.