September 14, 2017
Over the last couple of years we have seen an explosion of the flea population in the UK. These annoying and irritating creatures have enjoyed the humid, wet summers and centrally-heated milder winters.
There is no longer a seasonal freeze-out to naturally halt their invasion. It is crucial, therefore, that pet owners be proactive all year round with flea control.
There is no shame in admitting that your pet has fleas. It is easier for a cat or dog to catch fleas than it is for us humans to contract a cold. Fleas are natural parasites of dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and many other animals. Almost all of our pets are at risk of suffering from an infestation. For the sake of your animals and your home, therefore, it is important that you seek expert advice to control the situation. Note how I used the word ‘control’ not ‘cure’. Fleas will always be in the environment so, unless you confine your pet inside a flea-free house all of the time, complete eradication is not a serious option. Instead, we battle to kill the pests quickly on our pets and stop them from breeding in our homes. Many veterinary practices offer flea clinics, run by veterinary nurses, free of charge so information and assistance from professionals is easy to access.
Some amazing (and frankly scary) flea facts:
- One flea can lay 50 eggs a day, producing 1000 fleas in just three weeks!
- 2. Only pets that are allergic to fleas will scratch. Your pet could be riddled with fleas but show no signs.
- Fleas can kill. To a kitten, fleas are like vampires. They feed on blood. Sadly we see many preventable deaths from flea bite anaemia every year. Veterinary flea sprays can be used from two days of age on kittens and puppies. Products are also available from the vets that are safe to use on a bitch or queen while she is pregnant or feeding her young. Veterinary products are different to non-prescription flea treatments and are safe and effective.Some over-the-counter dog flea treatments kill cats. Never put a dog product on a cat!
- Ninety-five percent of the flea population lives in the environment. This means your house and garden (amongst lots of other places). If you only kill the fleas on your pet you will not control the problem. It often takes six months or longer to treat an infestation so prevention is a much more sensible, easier and affordable option.
- Fleas can live in a cocoon for up to one year before hatching out. Household sprays and ‘bombs’ can’t kill these pupal stages, so you must wait until they hatch out to destroy them. Vibrations encourage the fleas to hatch so vacuuming (or jumping about a lot!) before spraying the whole house is important.
- ‘Bubonic Plague’, which most people associate with the Middle Ages, is carried by fleas and still exists in this century. Ten cases of plague are seen yearly in the U.S. but luckily it no longer exists in the UK.
- Not all people in a household will get bitten by fleas. Some people believe that those with ‘sweeter’ blood like diabetics are more attractive to fleas! It appears that postmen may be particularly appealing to fleas as Royal Mail actually stopped delivery to a house last year due to suspected flea bites.