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The Main Flea on Dogs is the Cat Flea

By Chris Williams on August 18, 2014.

My dog is infested with cat fleas, according to our vet. Does that mean he picked them up from a cat somewhere? We don’t have a cat and he hasn’t been around other animals. How could he get cat fleas?  A.A., Sandown, NH

cat fleaYour dog and most dogs in this country that are infested with fleas are infested with what we call the cat flea. Confusing, but blame it on the taxonomist who first named that particular flea. Incidentally, there is a flea called the dog flea and it is found occasionally on dogs, as well as cats.

The cat flea is Ctenocephalides felis and its appearance is virtually indistinguishable from the dog flea, Ctenocephalides canis. You don’t need to be concerned about which flea is bothering your dog. They all have the same basic life cycle and that’s what you need to be familiar with if you hope to get rid of your dog’s fleas (see “Sorry, Worcester…You Have Fleas!“).

How Does a Dog Get Cat Fleas?

Your dog could have picked up his cat fleas almost anywhere. Flea eggs and developing flea larvae are common outside, left either by infested pets or wild animals. Raccoons, possums, skunks, and other animals can have cat fleas, too (see “Your Pet’s Fleas Could Be From Animals Visiting Your Yard!”). Fleas that have just emerged from the pupal stage are looking for an animal to feed on and will jump on the first furry, warm-blooded animal that passes by. Just walking your dog on a trail, taking him to a park, or even a visit to the vet could expose him to cat fleas.

The adult cat flea stays on the animal it is feeding on. To get rid of adult fleas, you need to treat your pet with a veterinarian-approved, on-animal flea control product. Hopefully your vet did that already. And hopefully your vet explained that you also need to treat your home for immature fleas. Just treating your dog will not solve the problem.

Treat Your Dog and Treat Your Home

The flea eggs and flea larvae develop off of the pet, usually in the pet’s bedding and other places where the pet sleeps. It’s important that you have an exterminator treat these areas in your home. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, you may need an outdoor flea treatment as well.

If you haven’t yet had your home treated, give Colonial a call. Our experienced technicians will inspect and treat your home for developing fleas so that you and your dog can rest easier.

By Auguste Le Roux (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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