In the life of a paw parent, fleas are, in fact, the most prevalent vexatious pests in existence. Feeding off animal blood and causing irritation and flea allergies dermatitis, they are the top parasitic culprits commonly responsible for the discomfort of dogs, cats, and humans. But did you know that there are several types of fleas on dogs?
What Kind of Fleas do Dogs get?
Dog fleas are small wingless insects that can mobilize by jumping with their very powerful legs, enabling them to sneak into almost everything.
An adult flea can jump up to12 inches or so, which is more than 150 times their height. Thus, these little critters easily transfer from one host to another or from the surrounding environment onto the host.
Traveling onboard the host, animal transports existing fleas to a vast number of different areas, making fleas dangerous disease-spreading vectors.
How do I Identify Fleas?
Different types of fleas on our dogs differ in appearance. But, generally, dog fleas are brownish-black in color but appear reddish-brown after some blood meal. Adult fleas are 1-4 mm long, with hind legs having eight notches.
Its body is laterally flattened, allowing it to move easily through an animal’s fur while its spines project backward, helping it to anchor onto your pet during grooming.
These pests prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent. Hence, for some areas of the United States and other tropical countries, fleas on dogs and flea infestation are more than just a summer problem because they can survive and bother your pet year-round.
Your dog’s soft and warm fur, which you find cuddly, is also why fleas can hardly resist him.
Out of over 2,500 species of fleas that exist worldwide, more than 300 common flea species live in the United States.
Different species have a particular host animal that they primarily prefer to feed on. However, this does not preclude them from resorting to other available options if need be.
It is important to identify which type of flea affects your pet. It would help you with how to remove fleas and their eggs and practice proper flea control.
Types of Dog Fleas
Did you know that there are several types of fleas on dogs? We share with you eight types of fleas that are most common among our pets.
Be on the lookout for these flea types that you and your dog may most likely encounter.
Of all the various types of fleas, the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is ironically the most commonly found pest that affects dogs and cats. Having one of the broadest host ranges, cat fleas have been found to infest more than 50 different mammalian and avian hosts throughout the world.
A cat flea may also target humans, livestock, and wild animals like raccoons, ferrets, rabbits, and foxes.
Most often, they cannot determine whether a host is suitable until biting it. Cat fleas soon drop off if they find the host not up to their liking.
A cat flea is 3mm long, flattened from side to side, and wingless but with long legs. It has a long head, hind legs with six notches, and both genal and pronotal combs (ctenidia) that distinguish it from the other types.
Cat fleas nest in the host’s usual resting place, and it is where the young often drop to mature. Unlike other species, they stay on dogs and cats after feeding, mating, and laying eggs.
A source of severe irritation in animals and humans, cat fleas are responsible for flea allergy dermatitis. Cat fleas are also capable of transmitting other parasites and diseases such as typhus-like rickettsiae and are the intermediate host for worms like the tapeworm.
Dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) is an ectoparasite or a pest that lives outside of its host or on your pet’s skin.
Dog fleas also prey on similar hosts as cat fleas and can live for 7-14 days. They divide their time between living on your dog and laying eggs.
As they can jump around up to 6 inches, they travel from host to host and can also infest garden lawns or parts of your house. You may notice tiny black specks of flea dirt on your dog’s fur during combing or spot them crawling on your carpet.
These common fleas are the usual suspects for some canine skin problems. Flea bites are itchy for all dogs and can lead to some developing allergic reactions, such as flea allergic dermatitis (FAD).
Oriental Rat Flea
The oriental rat flea goes by the scientific name Xenopsylla cheopsis. These fleas prefer rats and rodents but will feed off dogs, cats, and other pets, if necessary.
Both the oriental and northern species make a meal of brown (a.k.a. Norway) rats and roof rats. A carrier of the bubonic plague, rat fleas spread serious diseases.
Tropical Hen Flea
The sticktight flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea) is commonly called the tropical hen flea.
One of the common types of fleas that live on poultry animals but will also feed off dogs or other animals if they happen to be nearby. These buggers can harm those in contact with squirrels, poultry, and other birds.
The bird flea (Ceratophyllus gallinae) can largely multiply in hen houses, breeders, and other similar environments. Adult fleas are generally brownish in color, 1/32-5/16 of an inch long, and equipped with apparent eyes and antennae.
Projecting downwards from the head, their mouths are well adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Bird fleas can live just for a short time indoors and only in nests. They breed during the nesting period when the host and/or young are available for regular blood meals.
Otherwise, the adult fleas must find a new host. Reusing the nest will cause the pupae to hatch, mate, and continue the breeding cycle.
The rabbit flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi) is found not only on wild and pet rabbits but on dogs and cats as well.
Typically, they feed on the host’s ear and cause crusts and papules, particularly around the edges of the ear.
Human fleas (Pulex irritans) tend to prefer a human host, though they will feed on dogs, cats, pigs, and other mammals if they have to.
This type is frequently found on the same host and environment with the false human flea as they are closely related.
False Human Flea
The false human flea (Pulex simulans) is similar to the human flea. It is also one of the common types of fleas that may target your pets.
Besides your pet, these insects feed on wild mammals too.
What do Fleas eat?
Fleas survive by eating or sucking the blood out of any warm-blooded body. Though they mostly thrive on the blood of furry animals like dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, and raccoons, they sometimes feed off the humans too!
Notably, the female adult flea spends most of her life on the host, feeding on canine blood. They lay eggs up to hundreds of times per day.
Flea eggs or larvae then fall off and spread to beds, carpeting, and furniture. This often leads to flea infestations getting out of hand.
For every single flea on your dog, there could be 100 more invading your home, despite how clean it is.
Be prepared for how troublesome fleas can be, as they are associated with causing a ton of complex health problems.
A dog flea can potentially spread diseases. They are carriers of the tapeworm parasite, which may affect dogs and infect humans. They can also transmit a wide variety of diseases, including plague, murine typhus, rickettsiae, and cat-scratch disease.
Extreme cases of itching from flea bites can lead to open sores. It makes your pet vulnerable to infection and even goes through emotional trauma. Flea bite dermatitis is an allergic reaction to flea saliva commonly seen on the host’s face, head, neck, and tail base.
Flea saliva can result in uncontrollable scratching and defensive biting. In turn, these causes hypersensitivity, inflammation, scabs, and hair loss in the affected areas.
Blood loss occurs whenever they bite your dog, as they suck some blood each time. And long-term flea infestation can cause anemia. This is due to your dog losing blood faster than he can produce it. If not treated immediately, this condition is potentially fatal, especially in puppies and smaller pets.
During pet grooming, they often eat the fleas on their body and thus consume the tapeworms too.
Remember, pests and flea infestations target our pets and backyard animals at any time. When these pests are prevalent around your home, it is best to practice effective flea control as early as possible.
Visit your veterinarian and talk about your flea problem. He could help provide guidance on how to remove fleas and prevent fleas from recurring.
These products at home may be your home remedies to prevent flea infestations.