Most pet owners expect their pet to experience at least one parasite problem during their lifetime, and fleas are one of the most common. They are also quite possibly the most annoying type of parasitic infestation to deal with.
But first, let’s find out a little more about fleas and how these pesky parasites operate.
What you need to know about fleas
These tiny wingless creatures rely on the blood of a host to survive which they obtain by sitting on the skin of their next meal vessel, and biting in. They have uniquely impressive jumping capabilities which makes it easy for them to transfer from host to host. Nevertheless, fleas are perfectly capable of living without a host for a number of weeks meaning that they can lurk quite happily in your property between meals. Unfortunately, they also reproduce at an extremely rapid rate, enabling a lone pair of fleas to turn into a large population within just a couple of months.
What happens when fleas bite?
When a flea bites your pet, a number of things happen. Firstly, flea saliva is mildly toxic. When it comes into contact with your pet’s skin it causes irritation that in turn leads to intense itching. In fact, excessive itching is usually the first indicator that your pet may have a flea infestation. Fleas aren’t too picky where their next meal comes from and will happily bite the humans in your house as well as any pets.
Secondly, some fleas can carry illnesses, including the parasite tapeworm, murine typhus and cat scratch fever. For this reason, it is essential to do everything that you can to prevent flea infestations and treat them quickly if they do occur.
Fleas are notoriously difficult to spot. They are dark brown or black in color and little larger than a speck. They most often bury down into the depths of your pet’s fur. Most owners tend to notice flea dirt first. These dark granules look like soil, but when placed onto damp tissue turn red – an indicator that they are flea feces full of blood.
Prevention is best
Flea infestations are tricky to deal with due to:
- the size of the parasite
- the rate at which they reproduce
- the fact that they will make themselves at home in your home
Therefore, we recommend that prevention is much better than resorting to treatment. There are a range of preventatives available including spot-on lotions, collars, shampoos and oral medications, and your vet will be able to advise which is the most suited to your pet.
Treating fleas on your pet
If you have identified that your pet has fleas, you should get on with treating her as quickly as possible. There are a wide variety of different treatment options available, making it easy to find the right one for your furbaby.
They usually come in the form of spot treatments that are placed on the back of your pet’s neck or between her shoulder blades. Powders, shampoos, and some orally-administered drugs may also be recommended. In some instances, it may be necessary to complete several rounds of treatment to completely eradicate the problem, but this should only be done under the express instructions of our vet.
Getting rid of fleas from your home
Fleas are among the most resilient of unwanted house guests and removing them from your property can be an arduous task beginning with cleaning your property from top to bottom.
Fleas love to lurk under furniture, between cracks in flooring and walls, and between the folds of soft furnishings like rugs and curtains. Vacuum every day, making sure to seal and dispose of the bag each time so that no fleas, flea larvae or eggs can escape back into your property. Flea eggs can also live in a vacuum bag for months.
Thoroughly boil wash your pet’s bedding several times, or in the case of a severe infestation, we recommend throwing away bedding and blankets that she uses. A carpet cleaner may also be beneficial for removing all traces of a flea problem.
Finally, invest in flea treatments for your home which include sprays and even flea-bombs. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Then follow up the treatment with robust preventative action!