Fleas are a problem year-round in south Louisiana, with its warm and humid climate, but they are most prominent in the spring and summer. These pests are a continual threat to our pets and one of the hardest to combat. They are out for blood (literally), reproduce at a rapid rate and have a very short lifespan. Once fleas appear, expect to have flea eggs within about two days; the eggs then hatch within one to ten days. One female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her short lifespan!
The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult flea uses a dog or cat as a feeding ground for blood and for breeding. Fleas will either lay eggs directly on the animal or in the immediate area, inside a home or backyard. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, grass, etc. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter. Larvae then develop into pupae that hatch into adults. An adult flea finally emerges from the pupa and then latches onto an animal.
Fleas not only cause problems for pets, but for people as well. It is a constant battle to get rid of fleas once they have infested a yard or home. Not only do they cause itching and irritation, they can also cause more serious health issues for pets. Severe flea infestations can cause pets to become anemic from blood loss. In addition, parasites, including intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, are commonly spread through fleas.
If a pet is scratching and chewing a lot, but no fleas are visible, it does not mean that they are not present. Check carefully for fleas or signs of flea dirt, which looks like coarsely ground pepper.
If one animal in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have been infested.
There are several flea mediations on the market, but a visit to your veterinarian is the best source for preventing and getting rid of fleas. Not all flea medications are equal, and some over-the-counter products can be ineffective and even harmful to pets.
ADOPTION EVENT: Animal Rescue New Orleans will have adoptable dogs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Magnolia Fest, 100 Central Ave., Jefferson. For information, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADOPTION EVENT: The Jefferson SPCA will participate in Jefferson Feed Pet Adoption Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at 4421 Jefferson Highway, Jefferson. For information, send email to email@example.com.
BENEFIT SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: The Jefferson SPCA will be the beneficiary of the Best Doggone Softball Tournament on Saturday, April 18, at the LaSalle Sports Complex, 6600 Airline Drive, Metairie. For information call (504) 390-7965 or visit www.SouthernSportsLeagues.com.
CRITTER CINEMA: A Critter Cinema event for children ages 5 to 10 will be held from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Animal-loving, pizza-eating, movie-watching kids will play with puppies and kittens and enjoy a G-rated critter movie, crafts, games and more. Participants are invited to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and pajamas.
PET FIRST AID: A Red Cross-certified instructor will teach first aid and CPR for pets from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 18, at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans.
The hands-on training course will cover the basics of animal handling, restraint, pet first aid and CPR using realistic animal mannequins. The cost is $65 and preregistration at la-spca.org is required.