Successful flea control has two parts to it. Fleas must be controlled both on your pet and in your environment. Since dogs and cats share the same fleas it is important to treat all pets within your household.
To appreciate the complex issue of flea control, you must understand something about the flea’s life cycle. Fleas seem to be rather simple creatures, but their life cycle is quite complicated. Although you are only able to see the adult flea on your pet, there are actually four stages to their life cycle: the egg, larva, pupae and adult stages. The adult flea stage makes up only about 5% of the entire flea population. Flea eggs are too small to see without magnification. Fleas lay their eggs on the pet, but the eggs do not stick to your pet’s hair, they fall off into the environment. The eggs make up 50% of the flea population. Every adult female flea lays 50 eggs per day and these eggs hatch in two weeks.
The fleas then enter the pupae stage in which they form a cocoon around themselves. During this time they are resistant to all flea products applied to their environment. Because of this, you will need to treat your pet with a flea preventative from your veterinarian for 6 months to eliminate the flea problem. If you stop these medications before this period of time is up, the pupae will emerge, begin laying eggs and start the vicious cycle all over again.
Fleas are a problem for a number of reasons. They are uncomfortable for your pet and can cause serious health problems. Fleas ingest blood from your pet and, if left untreated, can continue to feed for several weeks consuming up to 15 times their bodyweight in blood. The loss of blood from the pet can lead to an insufficient number of red blood cells in the body, also known as anemia. In young or debilitated pets the anemia may be severe enough to cause death.