– One of the most common parasite problems in cats, dogs and rabbits is fleas.
– Of the over 2000 flea specis, only two cause significant problems in our domestic pets, namely the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis).
– Despite the name, cat fleas cause the biggest problem in both cats and dogs.
– An adult flea can jump up to 20 cm vertically or 35 cm horizontally. For an avergae human, this would be the equivalent of 76 metres vertically and 140 metres horizontally!
– Pets which routinely go outdoors are likely to come into contact with fleas intermittently. Indoor cats are obviously at a much lower risk of encountering fleas, but the risk is not zero since it possible for fleas to enter the home on the owners’ clothes.
– The flea life cycle consists of the adult, egg, larva and pupa.
– Adult fleas live, feed (by sucking blood) and mate on the cat or dog, laying up to an astounding 40 eggs per day! They stay there until they die or are removed by grooming or flea treatments. Adults account for only 5% of the total flea population.
– Eggs are laid on the animal but quickly fall off into the environment, hatching between 4 and 12 days later.
– Flea larvae hatch from the eggs and move into dark areas away from sunlight to feed and develop.
– After one to two weeks, the larvae turn into pupae for the final stage. The pupa is a coccon inside which a new adult flea develops. This process can take up to two weeks, but if the conditions for hatching are not right, the pupa can over-winter and survive for up to nine months inside the house environment.
– Vibrations or carbon dioxide (indicating the presence of a nearby new animal host) trigger the new adult flea to hatch from the pupa and the cycle begins again.
– We all know that the biggest problem caused by fleas is itchiness (pruritis), but flea infestations can cause other problems.
– The flea is the intermediate host for one type of tapeworm, therefore a pet with a flea infestation is at greater risk of having a tapeworms too.
– Some animals are hypersensitive to flea saliva, and when fleas bite, these animals develop Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD).
– FAD is characterised by extreme itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin, superficial skin infections (sometimes severe and oozing) and scaling or crsuting of the skin (seborrhea).
– Since fleas feed by sucking blood, which they need to do before they can mate, some animals, particularly puppies, kittens and senior pets, are at risk of developing anaemia secondary to a heavy flea infestation.
– Fleas can be responsible for spreading Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease in rabbits, therefore in these instances flea infestations can be fatal.
– Heavy flea infestations are very easy to spot when looking through the coat of your pet.
– In lighter infestations, in the early stages, fleas themselves can be more difficult to spot, since cats in particular are very good at grooming fleas out of their coats.
– If you have any doubt, it is best to bring your pet in for a check up with one of our vets or nurses, and we can check your pet’s coat for fleas.
– Regular flea control is an important part of the preventive health routine of all pets, particularly those which spend any time outdoors.
– There are many approaches to flea control, from spot-on preparations and sprays, to oral medications, injections, and household sprays. Regular hoovering of carpets, floorboards and furniture is vital too, as is the washing of pet bedding.
– Picking the most suitable treatment or combination of treatments for your individual pet is key in successfully preventing flea infestations or ridding your pet of fleas.
– Often using a combination of products to kill the adult faeces (both on the pet and in the environment) and stop the flea eggs from hatching in the enviroment is the most effective approach.
– If you have any doubt about the right strategy for your pet, or if you are struggling to prevent or treat fleas, then do ask our fully trained staff for advice.
– Remember, the fleas you can see are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential flea population, therefore the regular use of preventive measures is vital to keep the pesky fleas at bay!
Throughout the month of September we are offering a discount of 15% off Acclaim household spray, to help get your house prepared for unwanted visitors