Expert advice from PDSA vets on preventing parasites
During lockdown we’ve enjoyed lots of warm sunshine, but it can lead to big problems when it comes to fleas and our four-legged friends.
PDSA Vet Anna Ewers-Clark said: “Despite recent changes to the way vet practices are running, there are still many ways to keep your pet healthy and free from parasites. Fleas can become more active during warm weather and, although it might be more difficult to get hold of flea and worming treatments from your vets at the moment, you can still purchase effective products from trusted websites, such as PDSA’s online pet store: www.pdsapetstore.org.uk. For most healthy adult pets, changing or being a bit late with a flea treatment during the pandemic shouldn’t cause too much of a problem over a short period of time, especially if they don’t come into contact with many other animals.”
To prevent fleas affecting your pet this summer read Anna’s top tips:
- Treat your pet(s) regularly – follow your chosen product’s instructions very carefully and if you are unsure how often the treatment should be applied, talk to your vet or vet nurse.
- DO NOT use dog treatments on cats as some products for dogs can contain chemicals that are toxic to cats.
- Treat all pets at the same time – if you have multiple pets in your household, make sure to treat every single one with an appropriate product, as fleas can jump between animals.
- Treat your house – flea eggs and larvae can live in soft furnishings, carpets and cracks between floorboards for more than a year so if you’re dealing with a flea infestation, you need to treat your house as well as your pets! Wash your pet’s bedding and blankets at a minimum of 60 degrees, and spray your home with a fast-acting product that is effective against flea eggs. Follow all instructions on the spray carefully (you may need to keep your pets out of any treated rooms for a few hours). Once the flea spray has done its work, regular vacuuming can also help remove fleas. Don’t forget to treat everywhere your pet has been, including the car!
- Prevent other parasites – fleas can carry and transmit tapeworms so regular worming is also very important.
Some pets are allergic to flea saliva, so even just one fleabite can cause a reaction. This can make their skin seriously itchy, and excessive scratching or licking can easily lead to a skin infection. Grooming your pets regularly is not just a good way to keep your pet’s coat in perfect condition, it also gives you the chance to check for any skin problems. Keep an eye out for red, inflamed skin or patches of hair loss. If you spot anything concerning, give your vet a call to get this checked out.
Anna added: “If you have a young, or otherwise vulnerable pet that requires flea treatment, we recommend contacting your vets to discuss which treatment is best for them. Some vet practices are offering online or telephone consultations and will then be able to send appropriate medications directly to your home. As many vets are very busy at this time, you could try contacting your vets online or by email to discuss how they can help your pet.
“Remember that flea treatments meant for dogs should never be used on cats because they may contain ‘permethrin’, an ingredient that can be fatal to felines.
With regular preventive treatment, your pet should be able to avoid any nasty critters trying to hitch a ride this summer!
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information www.pdsa.org.uk.