While not as common in California as the cat flea (C. felis), which also infests dogs, the dog flea is typically found where animals sleep and frequent, including their avenue of travel. Dog fleas are known to be vectors of disease organisms that cause both plague and murine (rodent) typhus, and they can serve as an immediate host for the dog and rodent tapeworm. (The tapeworm egg exits the host mammal’s body, and the tiny egg packets dry to form what looks like sesame seeds. Flea larvae chew into them, swallowing the tapeworm eggs, which hatch inside the flea larvae and form a cyst within the larva’s muscles. The tapeworm-in-a-cyst waits for the larva to metamorphose into an adult flea, which is then eaten by the cat or dog during grooming. When the dead flea is digested, the tapeworm is released.) It is not necessary to have pets in your home in order to have fleas, since fleas can jump about six feet vertically and can hitch a ride in on your pants, socks and even shoes.
If you have a flea infestation, two steps you can take are, first, to treat your pets, either via a visit to the vet or using a product like Advantage or Frontline Plus, and second, to clean up your environment, vacuuming carpets, upholstery and anywhere else fleas might find harborage. Also, throw out and replace any animal bedding that might be infested at the same time you’re treating your animals for fleas. Your Clark technician can assess your situation and advise the best treatment options for your home and yard.
Latin name: Ctenocephalides canis