Uh-oh. You just saw Spot biting at his tail and itching like a maniac. At first, you thought “Maybe he just got into something,” but he’s started getting bald patches from all the excessive itching. Making it worse, you and your family has started to itch as well. You run a brush through Spot’s fur and confirm your worst fears: Spot has fleas.
Fleas are probably the most common form of parasites that can be found in human habitation. These tiny little pests most regularly make their homes in the fur of pets, such as dogs and cats. Trying to keep your pets free and clear from fleas is one of the biggest common expenses a pet owner can have.
The type of fleas your pet most likely has is the “cat flea.” Although there is such a thing as dog fleas, they are far less common in the US, to the extent that some experts are not entirely certain they have successfully migrated here yet. An individual cat flea will deposit hundreds of eggs in its lifetime. Those eggs will be scattered throughout the home environment, causing infestations. This is why it’s important to treat your whole home in case of a flea outbreak. Before the adult stage, where a flea will spend the remainder of its life in the fur of its host, fleas will spend their early development in the home environment of the host. This is how you wind up with humans, who are not suitable hosts for cat fleas, contending with flea bites.
In most situations, fleas are little more than an irritant. The itching they cause can be a source of frustration for humans and animals alike, and removing them can be a hassle. As previously stated, treatment and extermination can be very expensive. However, fleas can become a much bigger problem very quickly because they are well-known transmitters of diseases. Fleas, particularly fleas living in the fur of rats, were believed to be the biggest transmitters of the Black Plague. A less dramatic example, and a more likely one, is that fleas can also be transmitters of other parasites. An outbreak of fleas on your beloved pet can easily develop into worms.
Fleas in your home are not something to take lightly. A mild irritant can develop into a huge problem very quickly. Preventing outbreaks in your home is an important responsibility of being a pet owner. And if things do go wrong, stopping an outbreak is something you don’t want to delay any more than you need to.