Vet's Advice June 2018

May 29 2018

Fleas: the facts

FLEAS have been around for over 150 million years and were able to survive when the dinosaurs were wiped out.  Therefore, it is no wonder they can be tricky to get out of our houses and off our pets! 

You can tell if your pet has fleas by brushing their coat onto damp tissue paper. You may see live fleas or see the digested blood droppings (flea dirt). During the summer months, I commonly see fleas on cats and dogs but nowadays there are so many easy-to-use products available to prevent them. 

Only 5% of a flea problem is on your pet! The rest is lurking as eggs, larvae and pupae (cocoons) in our homes! A female flea can lay 40 eggs per day and most of these are shed where an animal sleeps. I advise treating all the pets in the household on a regular basis, weekly washing of pet bedding on a 60 degree heat and using an insecticide house spray. This will help you to break the flea lifecycle.

When fleas bite our pets they can cause itching and scratching. They will be particularly itching if they suffer from Flea Allergy Dermatitis, where flea saliva causes a severe allergic reaction.

Fleas can transmit disease; the most notable being The Black Death in the 14th and 15th century! They can transmit feline infectious anaemia, feline spotted anaemia, tapeworms and cat scratch disease. They can also transmit disease to humans in their flea dirt. To understand more about how common these diseases are, the University of Bristol is running a flea study called The Big Flea Project. This involves us combing your pet and submitting samples to the university. 

It is important to buy appropriately licensed flea treatments. If your pet has fleas but has not been seen recently, we offer free flea consults because we only sell veterinary licensed treatments. Before applying flea products, it is important to check that it is suitable for the animal you are using it on and is the correct dose/weight.