The considered fleas and ticks crawling throughout your canine in all probability makes your individual pores and skin crawl. These tiny bloodsuckers can unfold illness and provides your canine (and the remainder of your family) the itchy-scratchies.

They’re tenacious little parasites, however you may have a flea- and tick-free canine (and home) with year-round preventatives. Here we cowl the life cycle of fleas and ticks, why they’ll survive winter and the way they discover their victims.

An Indoor-Only Dog Can Get Fleas

If you will have an indoor canine that solely ventures outdoors to go potty, that doesn’t imply they’re protected from fleas. Wildlife like opossums, rabbits, raccoons, foxes and birds can even carry fleas. If wild animals journey by means of your yard or sleep close to your home, they’ll seed the setting with flea eggs. During humid months, these eggs quickly become grownup fleas that your indoor canine can decide up once they go potty. There’s additionally the prospect that you’ve wildlife inside your home which might be carrying fleas (e.g., mice).

You can be the supply of the fleas. For instance, you might deliver dwelling fleas if you happen to spend time with different folks’s pets, volunteer at an animal shelter or go for a stroll by means of a flea-infested space. Your canine might decide up fleas whereas they’re out and about, like on the groomers or visiting the veterinary clinic.

Fleas Love to Play Hide-and-Seek

Fleas are opportunistic, and their immature phases (eggs, larvae and pupae) can disguise nearly anyplace. Even if you happen to don’t have carpet, they’ll nonetheless be discovered within the cracks between hardwood floorboards, laminate or tile ground coverings and alongside baseboards. Fleas and their immature phases can disguise in your canine’s bedding (and yours!) and in upholstered furnishings.

Hiding helps fleas make it by means of winter. They can survive temperatures within the mid- to upper-30 °F vary and maintain good and heat by discovering cozy locations to huddle as much as — just like the pores and skin of your canine. Flea eggs that fell into the carpet and furnishings earlier within the 12 months can become grownup fleas within the heat of your home within the winter.

How Long Do Fleas Live?

Fleas usually have 4 life phases: grownup, egg, larva and pupa. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life cycle of fleas may be very fast or very gradual (months to years) relying on the environmental situations. The CDC explains that flea eggs laid within the fur of the host (or their environment) hatch 1 to 10 days later — relying on the temperature and humidity. The larvae feed on blood and flea feces for five to twenty days then spin a cocoon and enter the pupa stage. It can take a number of days to weeks for grownup fleas to seem, they usually received’t emerge till they detect the presence of a number (e.g., motion, physique warmth). Adult feminine fleas begin feeding inside just a few hours, mate quickly after and lay eggs — and the cycle continues.

The Problem with Fleas

Some canines are allergic to antigens in flea saliva and might develop flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Unfortunately for these genetically predisposed canines, a single chunk is all it takes to develop FAD — the most typical pores and skin situation in canines. If your canine is itching and scratching on a regular basis, significantly alongside the again half of their physique, they need to be assessed for FAD. The excellent news is that if you happen to get rid of the fleas, you get rid of the FAD.

Fleas can even carry tapeworm larvae. When your canine is grooming themselves, they’ll unintentionally ingest an contaminated flea and introduce tapeworm into their physique. Tapeworms don’t normally trigger signs in canines until the an infection is extreme, however tapeworms can infect folks.

Ticks Go Where the Hosts Are

Ticks are much less seemingly than fleas to cover out in homes. They are usually present in areas of tall grass, shrubbery, brush and different vegetation, the place the animals they feed on can be strolling by. Immature ticks may be present in leaf litter or in layers of decomposing leaves beneath timber and can crawl on a number when the particles is disturbed.

Ticks Can Winterize Themselves

Ticks may be very hardy and might survive surprisingly chilly temperatures. They don’t normally die off in winter, even in Northern states; they simply turn into much less lively. They have many choices to outlive a harsh winter together with turning into dormant, hiding in leaf litter in woody and brushy areas, hitchhiking indoors and spending winter on an animal.

Snow may help dormant ticks by insulating them from the chilly temperatures. If there are heat days throughout winter (temperatures above 40 °F), the grownup black-legged tick (deer tick) can turn into lively and has been discovered on vegetation above snow-covered floor ready for a number to stroll previous.

How Long Do Ticks Live?

Ticks usually have 4 life phases: grownup, egg, six-legged larva and eight-legged nymph. According to the CDC, the life cycle of ticks can take as much as three years and most ticks die earlier than finishing it as a result of they’ll’t discover a host to feed on. Ticks can feed on quite a lot of host animals together with mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and most ticks want to have a special host animal at every life stage.

The CDC explains that, just like fleas, ticks can sense animals close to them by detecting their breath and physique odors, physique warmth, moisture and vibrations. Ticks use a course of known as “questing” to discover a host by crawling up grass blades or different vegetation and ready with their first set of legs outstretched for an animal or particular person to stroll by. When a number (like your canine) brushes by the tick, they climb aboard and search for a spot to start out feeding. They will feed for a number of hours and even days after which drop off the host into the setting.

A cartoon tick life cycle depicting the four life stages of ticks.

The Problem with Ticks

Ticks can carry and transmit a number of several types of disease-causing micro organism, viruses and parasites (e.g., the micro organism that causes Lyme illness). The excellent news is that not each tick is contaminated with a pathogen — most tick bites don’t trigger illness. But you don’t know which ticks are contaminated and which aren’t, which is why it’s necessary to make use of year-round tick preventives to guard your canine.

The feeding time for ticks to go on pathogens varies amongst ticks and pathogens. Some micro organism could also be transmitted inside 3 to six hours of tick attachment; others require greater than 24 hours earlier than transmission happens.

Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

The greatest technique to stop fleas and tick from inhabiting your canine (and your home) is to make use of year-round flea and tick preventatives. Don’t cease utilizing them in the course of the winter months — fleas and ticks can nonetheless be round and on the lookout for a number to feed on. There are quite a lot of preventative choices to select from together with topical, oral or collar flea and tick preventatives. Your veterinarian may help you determine which preventatives are the suitable one on your canine.


Fleas and ticks are hardy, opportunistic and affected person — they don’t thoughts ready for a number to return alongside. By utilizing year-round preventatives, you may cease the flea and tick life cycle and maintain your canine (and residential) free of those tiny bloodsucking parasites.


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