Fleas are nasty little critters that are responsible for causing pets a huge amount of discomfort. And there’s nothing like seeing a flea on your beloved pet, to make you twitch and itch for hours after wondering if they’ve jumped on you too!
What are fleas and why are they a problem in pets?
Fleas are insects that live on other animals, sucking and feeding on their blood. They do this by biting the skin, injecting saliva containing an anticoagulant, to stop the blood clotting, so that they can feed freely. Here are some of the problems associated with flea infestations:
- Disease Transmission: As with other insects that feed on blood, other parasites like bacteria, can be transmitted in the fleas’ saliva during feeding.
- Anaemia: When present in large numbers, fleas can cause life-threatening anaemia because of the volume of blood they suck from their host.
- Tapeworms: They are intermediate hosts for tapeworms, so if a dog or cat chews on one and swallows it they’re likely to have a tapeworm infestation which in turn causes other issues.
- Allergies: Some animals have allergic reactions to flea saliva and can itch and scratch for several days to weeks after a single flea bite. Further skin complications often occur after a flea bite allergy reaction has taken place.
How do I know my pet has fleas?
- Tell tale signs are itchy pets, particularly if they’re “scratching and chewing with enthusiasm”.
- Sometimes you will be able to see fleas running across your pet’s belly when she lies on her back for a tummy-tickle. But be aware: fleas are pretty good at running for cover, so you may not always spot them.
- Flea dirt (small speckles of dark debris on the skin surface) is diagnostic for fleas – even if you don’t see fleas, you know your pet has a problem if you see this.
- Missing patches of fur, especially around the base of the tail, are strong indicators that there is a flea problem.
- Other skin problems like “hot spots” can be the first signs that you notice if your pet has an allergy to fleas.
How do I get rid of fleas?
Speaking to your vet will allow you to get the best advice for your particular circumstances but here are the general steps that need to be followed in order to get rid of a flea infestation.
- Treat all the pets in the household at the recommended intervals with an effective flea treatment. There are so many options out there, so please discuss this with your vet for the best one for your pets.
- Vacuum (at least weekly) any areas that your pet spends any significant time in – this includes wooden floors, carpet, chair cushions, rugs.
- Wash all pets’ bedding once weekly in hot water and dry in the sun.
- Keep lawn short
- If the infestation is particularly bad, consider calling in pest control specialists to fumigate the house and spray the garden. CAUTION: You will have to house your pets elsewhere until it is safe for them to be back in the home/garden.
- It will take at least 3 months for you to know whether a particular treatment is effective or not. This is because flea life-cycles may be longer or shorter depending on the temperature and humidity at any particular time of the year. This affects how quickly or slowly they hatch out of eggs in the environment and as they hatch out there may be new ‘waves’ of infestation. The best way to deal with this is to keep with the plan of regular treatment of all the pets, vacuuming, washing bedding etc as per the plan set out above.
Can I prevent my pet from getting fleas?
Absolutely! Using an effective preventative at the recommended interval is the best way to prevent a flea problem from happening. Occasionally a pet will pick up a flea if they’re out on a walk, however, if their preventatives are up-to-date, the flea will be killed and no further issues should arise. Multiple products exist as stand alone flea preventatives or in combination with tick control, heartworm and intestinal worm preventatives. Chat with your vet to get the best advice for your particular pet.
If you think your pet may have fleas, you need advice on how to prevent or get rid of fleas, we’ll be very happy to help. Please call on 0481 527 678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment and get those fleas under control!