6 Most Common Fleas that Affect Dogs and Cats


PetMD Editorial

Published Apr. 12, 2012
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Siphonaptera Species that Affect Dogs and Cats

You are probably aware of the fact that fleas are the most common (and annoying) type of pest, responsible for the discomfort of our dogs and cats (and us). But did you know that there are over 2,000 species of fleas that exist around the world, and that there are more than 300 of these varieties that live in North America alone? Different species have a particular host animal they prefer to feed from over all others. Here we will discuss some of the most common flea species that you may find feeding from your pet.

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#1 Cat Fleas

The most common species of fleas found on household dogs and cats in North America is the domestic cat flea. The scientific name for this species is Ctenocephalides felis. This species of flea selects dogs, cats, and humans as its preferred hosts.

#2 Dog Fleas

The scientific name for the common dog flea is Ctenocephalides canis. Despite the name, this flea will not only affect dogs, but also cats, humans, and other animals. The dog flea is also commonly found on wild animals, such as raccoons and opossums, and on livestock. Both cat and dog fleas are carriers of the common tapeworm parasite, which affects both dogs and cats.

#3 Oriental Rat Flea

There are a few other species of fleas that will feed off of dogs and cats if their preferred host species is not available. Xenopsylla cheopsis is the scientific name for the oriental rat flea, which is a carrier of the bubonic plague. These fleas prefer rats, but will feed off of humans, dogs and cats if necessary.

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#4 Tropical Hen Flea

The sticktight flea, also known as the tropical hen flea, goes by the scientific name Echidnophaga gallinacea. This species of flea mainly affects poultry, but will also make a meal of a cat or dog (or other animal) if they happen to be in the vicinity.

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#5 Rabbit Flea

The rabbit flea, called Spilopsyllus cuniculi, is seen not only on wild rabbits and pet rabbits, but dogs and cats as well. Typically they feed on the ears of the dog or cat and cause crusts and papules, particularly around the edges of the ear.

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#6 Human Flea

Fleas that target the human species as a preferred host include the Pulex irritans (or human flea) and the Pulex simulans (or false human flea). These fleas prefer a human host, but will also commonly feed from pigs, dogs, and cats. The false human flea is commonly found on dogs and cats, as well as on wild mammals in the canine family. Often, the human flea and false human flea are found in the same locations, as they are closely related.