Watching a dog biting itself and spinning erratically is one of those moments when you wonder what’s wrong with it. Once you realize that is because Fido has fleas, usually a more concerning question pop-ups in most people’s heads – can I get dog fleas?
What follows is an explanation and a definitive answer to the question whether it is possible for dog fleas to live on humans.
Life Cycle Of A Dog Flea
The life cycle of a dog flea involves 4 distinct stages. It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months or even more depending on the specific conditions.
The fleas spend most of their stages of life on the dog’s body but may also be dropped off and survive on other surfaces. These include carpeting and furniture upholstery indoors and soil or grass outdoors.
The first stage in the life cycle is the egg.
These are laid by female fleas in batches of 20 to 40 eggs every single day. The female will lay them as close to the base of the fur shaft as possible.
However, with thinner, straighter, and glossier coats, most of these eggs will be dropped to the ground and different surfaces as the dog moves around.
In warm and humid conditions, the flea eggs should hatch within 2 days.
However, this could take as many as 2 weeks in harsher environments.
What emerges is the second stage which is the larvae. These are tiny, white, legless worm-like creatures. They rely on dried blood remains left behind by adult fleas to survive.
As with the egg, how fast they proceed to the next stage depends on the conditions and can take anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks.
Once conditions are right, the larvae will spin a cocoon for themselves and enter the third stage which is the pupa stage. Majority of these are on carpeting and upholstery folds where they will stay developing into adults and emerge when they sense a potential host.
The pupal stage could last up to months in cases where there is no available host. However, if one is readily available then the pupae emerge as adults 1 week after entering the cocoon.
The final stage is the adult stage.
A few hours after emerging, they are ready to feed and breed and will lay eggs within a week and continue to do so throughout their lives. They can live for 2 to 3 months if a host is readily available.
Can A Dog Flea Live On A Human?
The answer to whether fleas can live on humans is a simple NO.
Dog fleas cannot live on humans. This has been supported by extensive scientific research such as:
They can accidentally end up on a human. They can even take a bite and suck some blood from the human. But that’s where it all stops as it seems that they don’t like humans too much.
Some experts think that’s because we have lesser hair than the dogs, while others believe there are also other features that contribute to that.
In any case, breathe easy as dog fleas can’t live on humans.
Why Do We Fear Dog Fleas?
Many people fear dog fleas because they think that all fleas are the same and they would cling at anything, whether it is an animal or a human.
However, the truth is quite the opposite. There are over 2200 kinds of fleas. And only one kind lives on a human.
That kind is way different than the one commonly found on dogs and cats. They are similar in size and shape, but they don’t share the same host affection.
Dog fleas can easily migrate from one to another pet or animal, but the idea of living on a human is not that appealing to them.
So, the only one real danger from dog fleas in your home is your other pets, that is if you have any other than your dog. For example, a cat, a hamster, or a domestic can easily get fleas from one another.
Flea infestations in dogs can be incredibly devastating. They are uncomfortable for the pooch, difficult to get rid of, and very dangerous if left unaddressed. It is therefore very important to identify signs of infestation and get the dog help as soon as possible.
Signs of infestation include intense itchiness. We are not talking about the simple scratch-and-go which may be normal with many dogs. What you will notice is intense and relentless scratching. It may get so bad that the dog scratches off bits of skin and fur leaving open wounds and at the very least, bruises.
You may also notice changes in the dog’s coat health. It will start to look duller, rougher, and may even start thinning as heavy infestations lead to complications like alopecia.
In addition to the surface symptoms, fleas in dogs could cause nonspecific signs like changes in mood and behavior, altered sleeping patterns, and reduced appetite as a result of the debilitating discomfort.
Can Humans Get Fleas From Their Dogs?
It is possible for fleas from pets like dogs to attack human beings. More often than not, these are the fleas that fall off onto carpeting and furniture. They tend to attack the feet and legs that are the easiest to access. However, when dropped onto surfaces like furniture and bed linen they could travel and infest even hair on human beings.
However, it is important to note that human beings are not the preferred host for most flea species. In fact, they will rarely make a home in a human host let alone lay eggs on them if they can access the initial host that was the dog.
But What If A Flea Bites Me?
Nothing. You may feel it, and there might be a red mark around the part where you are bitten, but that’s it.
You don’t need to take any action or see a doctor for now. Observe that area for 48 hours and monitor if there are any signs of discomfort. There should be no real danger. There is no medical record of a dog flea transmitting any disease to a human, not in a way that a mosquito can.
So aside from the sting and a little red mark that will vanish after a while, there is no need to be concerned about it.
Will Fleas Lay Eggs in Your Human Hair Or In Our Furniture?
If fleas have another alternative within their reach, they will rarely lay their eggs in human hair. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that they typically prefer blood from animals like dogs, cats, and rodents.
There is also the fact that they are usually not able to jump high enough from ground level to get to the hair and may end up lost in the folds of skin and clothing.
They are also unlikely to intentionally lay their eggs in furniture. This is mainly due to how upholstery fabric leaves their eggs exposed to danger including drying out. If at all they do lay their eggs around the home, carpets are their medium of choice as the eggs can slide down the fabrics and settle safely at the base.
Fleas will always go for animal hosts when they want to lay their eggs. Any infestation in human beings or presence on furniture is usually secondary. This happens with dogs that have thin coats or those whose fur has fallen off as a result of the infestation. Straight-haired dogs are also more likely to drop eggs on furniture as well as carpeting.
How To Avoid Getting Bitten?
If you suspect that your dog has fleas, you need to wear gloves when combing your dog or when giving it a bath. Also, you need to put all of its belongings like blanket and toys in the washing machine so they will be appropriately cleaned from fleas and even fleas larvae.
Also, be sure to bathe your dog with a flea shampoo too. Dog Flea Shampoos are a quick and effective method to killing those pesky fleas from your dog’s fur.