As the cooler weather rolls in, many of us may think flea season has passed us by. However, our heated homes mean they can thrive all year round, so regular preventive treatment is the only way to ensure furry family members are protected against these pesky parasites.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “Fleas are tiny insects that live on our pets’ skin, feeding on their blood, and they can be a real pain, both for you and your four-legged friend. Not only can they cause itchy, irritated skin, in more rare cases they can lead to serious illnesses such as anaemia.
“Regularly treating all your pets with a suitable flea treatment is the most effective way to ensure they remain flea free. Ideally, you should use the product your vet recommends for your individual pet – remember the products with the most effective ingredients are often only available with a prescription. However, if this is not possible, look for vet recommended products which are available online.
“Whether you choose a spot-on treatment such as KRKA’s flea screen or a tablet from your vet, be sure to follow your vet’s advice or the manufacturer’s instructions on how often you should administer the product as treatment frequency can vary.
“Washing your four-legged friend’s bedding on a hot wash and vacuuming your carpets and soft furnishings will also help eradicate any eggs, larvae, and pupae from your home.
Spotting an infestation
“Some pets may show no sign of having fleas, particularly if they are not allergic to them. However, if you notice your furry family member itching, licking, and biting at their skin more than normal then it could be a sign of an infestation.
“Fleas are normally well-hidden, therefore you’re more likely to spot flea-dirt than the parasites themselves. To check for this, take a comb down your pet’s back and then hold it against something white, such as a damp piece of cotton wool. This will help you spot the dirt, which appears as small, dark flecks, which turn red as they dissolve in water.
How to treat them
“It is important to treat any infestation as soon as you spot the signs, as fleas can cause your four-legged family member a lot of discomfort. It’s best to speak to your vet, who will be able to recommend the best course of treatment for your pet.
“Even if you have only noticed fleas on one of your pets, all those in the household will need to be treated. It is also important that you treat your home, as 95 per cent of fleas live in the environment rather than on your pet. You can eliminate them by using a household flea spray around your home – repeat this frequently, as flea eggs can survive for years if left untreated. Make sure pets are well out of the way of the spray and strictly follow manufacturer’s instructions. Some household sprays may contain permethrin, so be especially cautious if using sprays in households with cats, as this is toxic to them.
“If your pet has fleas, it’s also important to check they’re up to date with their worming treatments. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, so when your pet swallows fleas while grooming themself, they can develop tapeworms inside their stomach.”
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk