Seeing just one flea on your dog can signal one huge problem. Why? Because a single flea can lay up to 50 eggs on your dog in one day.1 That's how just a few fleas can quickly become hundreds and infest your pet.
If you’re in the unlucky situation of dealing with fleas that seem to keep coming back, one part of the problem may be that you’re only treating the fleas you can see. Visible fleas are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Adult fleas you see on your pet make up only 5 percent of the total flea infestation problem. The other 95 percent are in immature stages that will develop into adult fleas that jump onto your dog.2 Understanding the four stages of the flea life cycle can help you stop the continual invasion.
Stage 1: Eggs
Just one female flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day.1 Those tiny white eggs fall off your dog and get onto your furniture, carpet and pet’s bedding. So, essentially, wherever your dog goes, flea eggs go too.
Stage 2: Larvae
Flea larvae hatch from the eggs in 1 to 10 days. These larvae need to eat flea poop to continue to develop. (Yuck.) They need to live in moist, dark areas, so they hide in your carpet, under your furniture, under your baseboards and in your dog’s bedding.
Stage 3: Pupae
Larvae eventually turn into pupae by enclosing themselves in a sticky, silk-like cocoon. Usually an adult flea will emerge one to two weeks later. But if there’s no host to live on — like your dog — they can stay in the cocoon for weeks or months. This waiting game is the reason some people experience flea infestations soon after returning from vacation or moving into a house that’s been unoccupied.
Stage 4: Adults
Full grown fleas are the ones you normally see. These adults begin feeding almost immediately after getting onto your dog. Once there, they basically become permanent residents. Contrary to popular belief, fleas do not jump from pet to pet. Instead, they set up camp for the long run on one pet, biting, feeding and laying eggs for potentially several months.
Help stop the growing problem
You can understand why killing fleas at all life stages can be a piece of the puzzle in helping prevent fleas from overtaking your dog. That’s why many veterinarians recommend you use flea prevention and treatment products. Think about applying a treatment to your dog that works through contact, where fleas don’t have to bite to die. Biting fleas can make your dog miserable.
Also keep in mind that it’s important to kill flea eggs and larvae before they grow into adults. To do this, consider using a topical flea-control product that breaks the flea life cycle by killing adults, eggs and larvae. Advantage® II for dogs kills fleas at all those stages. Advantage® II also kills fleas through contact so they don’t have to bite your dog to die. It works all month long to break the flea life cycle – so you can help protect your dog from biting fleas.
1. Dryden MW. Host association, on-host longevity and egg production of Ctenocephalides felis felis. Vet Parasitol. 1989;34:117-22
2. Grace SF. Fleas. In: Norsworthy GD, Crystal MA, Grace SF, et al, eds. (2006). The Feline Patient. 3rd ed. Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing; 106-107.