Cat Fleas vs Dog Fleas

Scientifically, fleas are named based on their preferred host (the animal they are most commonly found on wordwide at the time of their discovery and naming). For example, the “Dog flea” is Ctenocephalides canis (C. Canis); the “Cat flea” is Ctenocephalides felis (C. felis); the “Human flea” is Pulex irritans (P. irritans); and the “Ground squirrel flea” is Diamanus mortanus (D. mortanus). There are over 2,000 flea species world wide, however, many of them do not exist in the United States.
It is a common misconception that dogs and cats are infested by different fleas (and therefore they can not transfer fleas to each other). In the United States, the most prevalent flea species infesting both dogs and cats is by far C. felis, the cat flea. That’s right! In the United States, the fleas most commonly found on cats and dogs are the same flea! This flea can also be found on wild animals such as foxes, opossums, raccoons, and coyotes (this is important to know when you are trying to prevent exposure of your dog or cat to fleas). And, although it is less common, the C. felis flea will also bite humans.
As most people know, flea bites on cats and dogs can cause them to itch themselves incessantly. This can lead to further complications such as self-inflicted skin lesions, patches of missing hair, and scaly, thickened skin. A condition that affects dogs but not cats is known as FAD (flea allergy dermatitis). This is an affliction where dogs are actually allergic to the flea bites. In severe cases of FAD, a signal bite can cause dogs to have extreme pruritus (an intense sensation of itchiness that can cause them to gnaw at their skin and attempt to rub themselves on furniture). Fleas that infest cats and dogs can also bring with them other diseases and parasites. For instance, both the dog and cat flea (C. canis and C. felis) can transmit Diplidium caninum (a tapeworm) to your dog or cat. This tapeworm is transmitted to your dog or cat when your dog or cat ingests an infected flea while it is grooming itself of chewing on itself due to its itchiness. These fleas can also carry diseases and parasites that are transmissible to humans as well. Regardless of which flea is on your pet (the dog flea, the cat flea, the human flea, or the sticktight flea), you don’t want fleas on your pet. If you think you have a flea problem, you should contact your veterinarian for advice on the proper flea preventatives.

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