What do fleas look like? - if you've never seen one before, you'd be forgiven for asking that question, and even if you have, I bet you've never seen one in such detail as the photo shown below!
You certainly don't want them crawling around on your sofa or jumping in and out of your carpets or your Cocker's coat!
There's a distinct difference between dog fleas and dog ticks - they are two entirely different parasites.
A dog flea is a small, flat, wingless parasite that feeds on the blood of its host.
Adult dog fleas are between 1-4 mm long and are black or dark brown in color, although after feeding on blood, they swell up and turn a brownish red.
Although these parasites are very small, they can be seen by the naked eye but not in much detail.
So, what do fleas look like? Take a look at this close up of one of these pesky parasites and you'll soon see - pretty scary huh?
If you look closely you'll see that the flea has hair-like bristles on its body and legs. It's these bristles which help it to travel through pet hair easily.
Fleas have three pairs of legs; the hind pair are specially designed for jumping - up to 35 cms high - which makes them fairly mobile!
They have piercing, sucking mouth-parts with sword-shaped mandibles to allow them to pierce the skin and feed on blood.
Their saliva contains an anti-coagulant enzyme that softens the host's skin to allow the flea to penetrate the skin easily and feed. It's this enzyme that causes allergic reactions such as lumps, redness, and itching of the skin.
Usually, the first sign that your dog has fleas will be his perpetual scratching, biting, and nibbling at his fur.
They are fairly flat as their bodies are compressed from side to side which allows the flea to move through your dog's fur and feathers with ease.
Parts of their body are covered with backward-leaning, bristle-like spines which can make it difficult to pull the flea of your dog's coat.
Dog fleas may be wingless insects but their stout, spiny, hind legs are relatively large allowing the flea to jump distances of approximately 35 cm - so beware, dog fleas don't need wings, nor do they need your Cocker Spaniel in order to travel around the house, they can do this simply by jumping around.
They're very fast and can sometimes jump too quickly for the human eye to follow.
Their polished bodies are able to withstand great pressure making them difficult to squash with your fingers - even if you are brave enough!
You can, however, usually break the shell-like body by squashing them between your thumbnails. Although getting the flea into position is not as easy as it sounds, however, it can be done.
We strongly recommend you wash your hands with antibacterial hand-wash after handling any type of flea.
I hope I've answered your question ("What do fleas look like") and you are now able to identify a dog flea should your Cocker Spaniel bring home any of those unwelcome guests.
If you remain vigilant while grooming your Cocker Spaniel you should be able to prevent infestation of fleas on dogs.
Did you know that if you find just 5 fleas on your dog there could be 95 other flea forms present in and around your home?
Effective flea control is not simply about killing adult fleas; learning about the flea life cycle will help you to understand how to get rid of all fleas forms and infestations.
How to treat flea bites on humans and dogs.
Getting rid of fleas on your dog needs a definite strategy because you can be certain they're lurking in your home too!
Fleas in your home? - don't worry, getting rid of them is easy, you just need to know where they lurk and what to use on them.
The easiest way of getting rid of fleas in your carpets and your favorite rugs.
There are many natural flea controls for those who are reluctant to use chemical treatments on their Cockers.
Photo Credits - In order of viewing:
1. Olikim at http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-2937031-dog-flea.php