With warmer winters and centrally heated houses, fleas are no longer just a summer problem, rather more a year round issue causing conditions ranging from skin irritation and allergies to infections, hair loss and anaemia.
Worse still, a female flea can lay 50 or more eggs per day which fall off your pet and onto carpets, bedding and can remain dormant for many months until conditions become suitable for development, via larval and pupal stages before becoming adult fleas. In just a few weeks, two fleas can become several thousand!
The Flea Life Cycle
The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea Ctenocephalides Felis.
A flea’s life cycle can take 2-3 weeks under optimal conditions, e.g warm summer weather or a house with the central heating on in winter.
Fleas go through a complete metamorphosis in 3 stages:
Adult fleas jump onto the host, (e.g dog, cat or human) and feed on the host’s blood.
In less than 48 hours fleas begin laying eggs, which fall from the animal into the environment.
In just a few days the eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae dislike light and crawl deep into the environment.
The larvae spin cocoons and wait until conditions are right and then emerge as new adult fleas ready to jump onto a host and start the cycle again.
How can we identify fleas on our pets?
When grooming your pet, look for specks of ‘flea dirt’ (faeces) in the coat or on the skin. If you groom onto some white paper towel or similar, add water to the black specks and they will turn blood coloured if they are flea dirt. You may see the fleas moving fast through the coat or your pet may start scratching more. Another indication is if you get flea bites, small red spots that are very itchy, often around the ankles.
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention is always better than cure so regularly treat your pets with a recommended preparation. Most are ‘spot on’ treatments now – very easy to administer – and veterinary preparations often also treat endoparasites (worms) and other ectoparasites. (ear mites, fox mange mites etc). If the infestation has got out of control, you may also have to treat carpets, bedding etc within the house to kill the eggs, larvae and pupae that are residing there.
For every 5 fleas on your pet there are another 95 in your home waiting to hatch and regular vacuuming will only remove 50% of the eggs and larvae because they are hidden so deeply.By just killing the fleas that are already on your pet you will not prevent them from becoming reinfested – most pet shop and supermarket products fail to treat the environmental side of the problem.
Fleas can also act as an intermediate host for Tapeworm Dipylidium Caninum. Tapeworm eggs which are shed in pets’ faeces are eaten by flea larvae which then develop into infected fleas. Your pet becomes infested by eating infected fleas whilst grooming, so any pet with fleas is likely to have a Tapeworm infestation as well.
Banstead Village Veterinary Surgery is currently running an offer on Stronghold. Stronghold is a spot on treatment for dogs and cats, easily administered to the back of the neck. It kills fleas plus their eggs and larvae as well as fox mange mites, ear mites, biting lice, Toxocara round worms and heartworm and it should be applied monthly.
Buy 3 packets of Stonghold for the price of 2!!!
Call us now on 01737210011