Dog fleas are a common problem whether you have dogs or not. The dog flea got their name because of their favorite hosts…dogs, but that doesn’t mean that just because you don’t have a dog, that you don’t have dog fleas. Like other fleas that can be found in the home, dog fleas cause discomfort by biting and can carry several diseases for dogs and people such as plague, tapeworm and murine typhus. Although fall is the most common time for fleas to appear, in many areas they can live year around.
The dog flea is a flat, wingless creature that is brownish black or black, and can have a tint of red when it is full of blood. Female dog fleas lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal which means up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. Flea eggs are oval, whitish and go through four life cycles which takes 2-3 weeks to complete. The eggs are deposited on or between hairs or in bedding material. When the dog shakes, the eggs fall off which is why eggs are often found where dogs sleep and not on the actual dog themselves.
One common misconception is that you have to have a pet to have fleas indoors. This is untrue. Fleas have a 6” vertical jump which enables them to jump on shoes, pant legs etc. Many people are surprised when they return from vacation or go into a vacant home and find a flea infestation. This is possible since adult fleas can live months without food (except for females who must have a meal before they produce eggs). Only 5% of the flea population is actually on your dog, the rest are in your home. (Source) Dog fleas can also be found on rabbits, skunks, opossums, occasionally on rats and rarely found on cats.
Prevention tips for dog fleas:
- Normal vacuuming – Make sure to vacuum floors, upholstered furniture, where pets rest and under furniture. Immediately empty vacuum bag, seal shut and dispose outdoors for your trash provider to retrieve.
- Treat pets – Treat your pets with flea prevention by taking them to your veterinarian, the groomer, or using over the counter medication.
- Shampooing carpet – Shampooing carpet can be more beneficial than vacuuming alone.
- Keep out wild animals – Wild animals such as rodents and opossums should be prevented from entering the structure and appropriately trapped.
If you are having trouble with fleas, please call the professionals at Northwest Exterminating. We will ensure that the inside and outside of your home is treated properly for the protection of your family and your pets.
NPCA Field Guide to Structural Pests