Fleas and ticks are an annoying and disgusting part of dog and cat ownership that you may have had to deal with at one time or another, but there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to these bloodsucking pests. Here are seven facts about fleas and ticks that may surprise you and even help you battle a current infestation on your dog or cat.
A female flea must have a blood meal before she lays any eggs. Once she eats, she’s capable of laying eggs a little over a day later.
She can lay over 2,000 eggs over the course of her life. Only female fleas need blood—the males breed and then die.
An adult flea can drink up to 15 times its total body weight in blood on a daily basis.
Newly-hatched fleas cannot survive without a meal for more than a week. Once a flea has its fill, it can survive for some time without another meal, especially if it remains in one place (such as on your dog or cat).
Fleas are a widely-varied species. Over 2,000 species and sub-species have been discovered.
The most common flea in the U.S. is the cat flea, which can multiply and spread at an alarming rate.
While ticks might look like bugs, they are actually related to arachnids such as spiders, scorpions, and centipedes.
Ticks are not as common as fleas; there are about 800 species known throughout the world. Some common ticks in the U.S. are the brown dog tick and the deer tick.
Ticks cannot only harm your dog, but if they invade your home, they can spread illnesses to your family, such as Lyme disease.
This disease can cause a painful rash at the site of the bite, flu-like symptoms, and even fever. The lone star tick is the most common carrier of Lyme disease.
Unlike fleas, ticks don’t jump in order to reach their hosts. They crawl or are transported from tall weeds as your pet brushes up against them when they are outside.
They can also crawl up out of the dirt to attach themselves. Most pets do not feel the bite because ticks have a numbing agent in their saliva that prevents them from feeling it.
While you might think of these creatures as pests, they can actually be deadly. In the Middle Ages, fleas that fed off rats and other animals were responsible for carrying the Black Plague, which killed hundreds of millions of people in Europe. A dog or cat that cannot escape its flea or tick-ridden environment will eventually die from blood loss, disease, or from massive infestation.
In order to protect your pets, keep them indoors as much as possible, do not let them wander in tall grass, and use flea and tick shampoo if you live in area where these pests are known to exist.