Fleas are tiny dark brown parasitic insects that infest the coat and skin of pets. They have an amazing skill allowing them to jump up to 150 times their own length. That's like a human jumping over 300 metres. Their remarkable jumping skills allow them to transit easily between hosts and the surrounding environment.
One of the first signs of a flea infestation is that your pet will be scratching and seem quite irritated. On closer examination you could find adult fleas in the coat or at the base of the fur on the skin. You may even find flea dirt that looks like small black specks of grit, similar to finely ground pepper. This is actually digested dried blood.
Flea eggs can remain dormant for astonishingly long periods of time under a variety of conditions. They lay dormant in the garden, or in your carpet and furniture, until they are able to hitch a ride. They jump great distances to find a host and travel on pets and even on people.
Fleas are the number one cause of skin disease in pets and can cause problems ranging from simple itchiness to weeping sores, scaly skin and a strong smell. Some dogs and cats are even allergic to flea bites (a condition known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis), where one bite sets off a horrible reaction.
If you think your pet might have a flea allergy, read one of guides:
Fleas also have the ability to transmit tapeworms in dogs and cats. Fleas also bite us!
Fleas are much easier to prevent than eliminate, so for the most effective method of flea control start before you see fleas. Fleas are not just a summer problem, heating used in winter provides a wonderful environment for flea development too.
Did you know that you can save on pet all all year round AND that we'll deliver monthly parasite contol to your door? The Total Wellness Plan is our annual healthcare plan for pets and includes 12 months of flea prevention as well as other necessary parasite control for your pet, alongside unlimited consultations*, annual vaccinations and more.
*For Classic plan members only.
Fleas breed at an enormous rate. The fleas you see on your dog represent only 5-10% of the fleas in the environment. The rest of the population is represented in the egg and larval stages found in your carpets, furniture, bedding and garden.
5% of fleas live in the environment as an adult, 95 % of fleas live as eggs, larvae or pupae. For effective flea control it is essential to break the lifecycle in the environment.
This lifecycle can take as little as 2-3 weeks but can last up to 6 months. To rid your household from fleas, you must break this cycle.
A well-designed program is necessary to maintain a flea free environment, and prevention is definitely better than cure. There are many different flea products available today and the options can be confusing. Not all products are registered for use in young puppies and kittens and may be quite dangerous.
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When undertaking flea control you have to consider the various stages of the lifecycle. In severe infestations, it is sometimes necessary to treat both the pet and the environment. However, due to the effectiveness of modern flea insecticides, treatment of your pet is often all that is needed. Here are some options:-
Products that stop fleas breeding and even make the female flea sterile. eg Activyl.
Adopt control strategies including;- Vacuum the carpet 2-3 times a week to remove eggs and stimulate dormant fleas, wash pet blankets weekly (in the washing machine) and leave in the sun to dry, spray the house, kennels and yards with an adult flea killer (professional treatment recommended), fog the house to prevent larvae developing.
Our veterinary and nursing team are fully trained in flea management and can assist you in choosing the product most suitable for your pet.
Flea facts courtesy of Advantage® Flea Control