Monday, April 26, 2010

FLEAS!

Fleas are horrible, awful bugs that bite you and make you itch, and they can also give you tapeworms, anemia or the plague.  Which is why I don't like them much.  In fact, I don't like fleas at all, and I think I am not alone in this!

Some dogs are allergic to flea bites, so when they get a bite, it makes them crazy with itching.  Luckily, I am not allergic to flea bites, but my brother Barry is, and so is Gabe.  Mel is not allergic to flea bites, and neither is Mom, but Mom gets very itchy from tick bites and chigger bites.  Anyway, if you are really, really allergic to flea saliva, it's called "flea allergy dermatitis."  Here's a dog who has it, and you can see that she has hardly any hair left.

Fleas aren't very big, and they are dark in color, so you can't see them very easily on a dog with black or brown fur.  Also, fleas have bodies like little armored tanks, so even if you catch a flea, it's hard to crush or mash it.  Fleas don't fly, but they have long back legs, so they are good jumpers.  Fleas can jump 7 inches up or 13 inches ahead.  This is like 200 times their body length, which means that the flea is one of the best jumpers of all known animals.

The only thing that adult fleas eat is blood.  So in this way, they are kind of like vampires, except not as handsome.  Here are some of the blood donors that fleas like best:  dogs, cats, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, ferrets, and mice.  After a flea eats a nice meal of blood, it doesn't have to eat again for two months to a year.  

Female fleas lay about 20 eggs at a time.  These eggs are laid on the host animal, but then they fall off.  This is why there might be a lot of flea eggs in your dog bed or cat bed.  The eggs take between two days and two weeks to hatch.

The little things that come out of the eggs are called larvae.  They look kind of wormlike, and they are very small and hard to see.  They eat anything organic that they can find, such as for instance dead insects, feces, and vegetable matter.  The larvae are blind, so they don't bother going out in the sunlight.  They just stay in dark little places like crevices and bedding.  

If the larvae can find enough food, they will curl up in a cocoon after a week or two.  Then after maybe another week, the adult flea is ready to come out and start the whole thing over again.  But if conditions aren't right -- like for instance, if it's wintertime -- the larvae or cocoon can just hole up and wait until spring or whenever.  This is why you probably won't get bit by very many fleas during the winter, but then in the spring, all the fleas come out again.

It was fleas that made lots of people in the Middle Ages get the plague.  Dogs don't get the plague, but people can still get it, even today.  Of course, now we have medicine and stuff to keep people from dying.  Except that people in some parts of the world can't get the medicine.  The bubonic plague can kill two out of three people who don't get treatment for it.  So it is not a nice disease to have.

Sometimes plague is used as a weapon.  An example of this was in World War II, when the Japanese bred a whole bunch of fleas and then used them to give the plague to Chinese, Korean, and Manchurian civilians and prisoners of war.  

Another thing that you can get from fleas besides plague is tapeworms.  And the way this happens is that little pieces of tapeworms with eggs in them fall out of an animal that already has tapeworms.  Then the flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs, and the eggs develop inside the flea.  After that, an animal swallows the flea while grooming itself, and then the tapeworm grows inside the animal's intestines.

I had tapeworms one time, not too long after I came here to live with Mom.  I was out walking with Mom and Gabe, and all of a sudden, a piece of a tapeworm came right out of my butt!  Mom was very surprised, but she went to Dr. Patricia's office and got some medicine.  And after I took the medicine, I was cured of the tapeworms.

Anyway, I just want to mention that the flea season is here now, unless you live somewhere like Australia.  So if you are a dog or cat, you need to make sure your mom or dad puts some kind of flea preventive stuff on you.  But don't get that kind that burns your skin, because that's not good.  My mom uses Frontline, and she rubs it on our backs once a month, and it makes any fleas or ticks that bite us drop dead before they can lay any eggs.  And that's a very good thing!



7 comments:

  1. lmbo! the picture of the backside of the dog! I was looking up what flea bites looked like on google images and that pic came up and i could NOT figure out what that was! totally thought that was some deformed animal.

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  2. I don't know what to do anymore. I'm giving my dog Frontline every month and he still gets fleas. What else is good for fleas? thx

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  3. Dear Anonymous,
    I am no expert on flea control, but I have heard that Frontline doesn't always work anymore for some dogs. Maybe you can try another product such as Advantix. I don't know what else is available because Frontline still works for me, so I have not researched the subject. You could maybe try a natural product of some type. You can find a bunch of them at http://www.onlynaturalpet.com Good luck! Fleas are NO FUN!
    Piper

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  4. Try Tea Tree Oil, just a very small amount on the back of the neck. Fleas, mites all hate the smell of it and will be reluctant to hitch a ride on your pet

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  5. Dear Piper
    fleas are an issue down under also, son lives there and they have to deal fleas also so do my other friends there. They all said it used to not be hardly.

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    1. Well, I didn't mean to say that fleas aren't a problem in Australia. I was trying to say that when it's the height of summer and flea season here, it's winter there, so the fleas are not as bad just then. I think I worded it all wrong, though!
      Piper

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