Your pets’ soft and warm fur is the perfect environment for fleas!
Fleas are the most common cause of skin allergy in dogs and cats. When a flea bites, it injects saliva into your pet’s skin and this can trigger an allergic reaction.
Signs your pet might have fleas include constant itching, hair loss (especially just in front of the tail), and red, irritated or scabby skin.
It is important to regularly vacuum your house, wash your pet’s bedding, and treat the environment and your pets.
How can I tell if my pet has fleas?
Fleas are small and move fast, so can be hard to see. The easiest way to find fleas on a cat or dog is to use a special fine-toothed flea comb, which can scoop up fleas and their dirt. Check under their neck, around the base of the tail and belly especially.
Other signs your pet has fleas include:
• Flea droppings (dark specks) in the fur or on bedding
• Flea eggs (white specks) in the fur or on bedding
• Excessive licking or scratching
• Scabs or hot spots on the skin
• Pale gums and lack of energy from anaemia (from severe infestations)
How do pets get fleas?
Knowing the flea life cycle helps us to understand how cats and dogs can continually get fleas, as adult fleas are just a small portion of the flea population.
There are four stages of the flea life cycle:
Eggs: Adult female fleas lay 40-50 eggs a day following a meal of blood. Eggs are small, white, and are laid in your pet’s fur. They drop off into the environment and develop from 2 days (when warm) to 2 weeks (when cooler). They can make up 50% of a flea population in your home.
Larvae: Emerging larvae are blind and avoid being out in the light. They develop over several weeks by eating pre-digested blood (flea dander or dirt) that adult fleas pass, along with other organic debris in the environment.
Pupae: In a sticky, protective cocoon, pupae can lay dormant deep in carpet and textiles for months awaiting a pet to walk by or people to move into a house.
Adult: Shortly after their first feed of blood, they will breed and begin laying eggs. Adults contribute only 5% of the flea population in your home – so if you find one adult flea, you need to take action.
Flea treatment for cats and dogs, kittens, and puppies
There is a range of options available, including spot-on flea treatment, flea collars, flea shampoo, flea powder, flea tablets and chews. Flea bombs for your house are also available.
Choosing a flea treatment depends on the age of your pet, whether they are pregnant or lactating, do they swim regularly, how frequently you want to give the treatment, what format will your pet best tolerate or is easiest for you to give, and do you want one that also kills worms, ticks, and ear mites?
There is a range of fantastic and effective options available, if you need any further advice or have any questions then don't hesitate to get in touch with your local Veterinary Hospital clinic.