Fleas are small, wingless parasitic insects that feed by sucking blood from mammals and birds. While immature fleas do not bite, adult fleas usually feed several times a day. Fleas are usually dark brown or reddish brown, have flat bodies, are 1 to 4 mm (.04 to .16 inches) long and can jump up to 20 cm (8 inches) vertically and 41 cm (just under 16 inches) horizontally. In most parts of Canada, the peak flea season is early August to early October.
Fleas are not just an annoyance. They can cause discomfort for you and your pet. Some people and animals get an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which creates a rash.
A flea bite creates a small, hard, red and itchy spot. The spot is slightly raised and swollen and has a puncture point in the middle. Flea bites often appear in clusters or lines. They can be itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks.
In animals, fleas can cause hair loss from frequent scratching and biting and sometimes even anemia (not enough red blood cells in the blood) in extreme cases. Fleas can transmit parasites like tapeworms and diseases like typhus.
In order to get rid of a flea problem, you need to treat your home, your pet and often your outside yard. Those treatments require special soaps for your pets and certain products that need to be applied in your home by professionals to ensure the best results.