Does hair coat length affect flea infestation in naturally infested dogs?
Abstract The Siphonaptera are parasitic insects of endothermic animals and Ctenocephalides felis and Pulex irritans are important parasites of dogs. This study evaluated the effect of hair coat length and time of year on the population size of C. felis and P. irritans in naturally infested dogs. Fleas were collected from 14 dogs on a monthly basis for a year (February 2015 to January 2016) at a rural property in Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The dogs were divided into two groups based on hair coat length: short coat (coat length < 5.0 cm, n= 7) and long coat (coat length > 5.0 cm, n= 7). In total, 2057 fleas were collected, 1541 of which were C. felis (74.91%) and 516 were P. irritans (25.08%). The number of C. felis and P. irritans individuals was significantly affected by hair coat length and time of year. The variation in flea numbers over the study months was higher in long-coated than in short-coated dogs for the two flea species and flea numbers increased with increasing mean monthly temperatures. The results provide a better understanding of behavioral aspects of flea communities in dogs and may help develop control strategies targeting these parasites.