Fleas are dark brown, thin, wingless insects that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They are very active and move quickly through the coat and can be hard to see. However, when they feed they leave small specks of dried blood in the coat that looks like dirt and this is often easier to see. This is particularly true in cats where excessive grooming often means that the flea is swallowed after it has bitten.
Remember that fleas spend most of their life cycle in carpets and soft furnishings as eggs and larvae so any control measures must address these areas too (and, if applicable, the car and caravan). Flea combs, powders, collars and many pet shop or supermarket products are not satisfactory and neither is just washing the bedding. Flea shampoos frequently do not stay in the coat long enough to work effectively.
If your flea treatment is not working then check that you are …
Using effective products – ask your vet
Treating all the animals in the household
Treating according to the manufacturer’s instructions
Treating the house
If you still have a problem then your pet may have developed an ‘itch-scratch’ cycle which will need veterinary treatment.
Combined Products – Treats the pet and the environment
There are several ways of doing this, many of the more modern ‘spot-ons’ will treat both the house and the animal. Some of these will also treat such things as mange, ticks, ear mites and even internal worms. These products last from 4-6 weeks. Most flea collars bought in pet shops are not very effective, but there is one that lasts for up to a year, both for cats and dogs, please ask us for details.
There is also a once a month pill for dogs and now a pill that lasts for 3 months! For cats there is an oral liquid once per month or alternatively a six monthly injection. One of the ‘spot ons’ for cats now also is a complete wormer as well!
Flea products for your pet that require additional environmental treatment;
There is also a flea killing ‘pump’ spray. The two advantages of this are; you can use it from 3 days old in kittens and 2 days old in puppies, and that it lasts for 8 weeks in cats and 3 months in dogs. However, neither normal Frontline or Frontline Spray control fleas in carpets, etc.
These are aerosols to spray around the house that prevent re-infestation by fleas for up to 12 months and kill adult fleas for up to 2 months.
The life of a flea on a cat or dog is very short, 7-14 days, but the eggs can survive in carpets for over a year and only hatch out when they sense a host is near. Normally 95% of the fleas are in carpets, etc. and only 5% on the animals. This is why fleas can suddenly appear from nowhere and why it is essential that the environment is treated as well as the animal.
Fleas do not leave their host to lay eggs, but the eggs are not sticky and fall off the pet wherever it may go in the home.
Only a few fleas are picked up outside the home, eg. in the garden.
Most fleas found on cats and dogs in the UK are actually cat fleas.
Problems caused by fleas include scratching in dogs (and humans) and excessive licking in cats. Dogs and cats may develop bald patches and scabs.
Fleas also spread tapeworms.
The vets and nurses in the practice will answer any queries.
Ticks lie in vegetation waiting for a warm blooded animal to go past and then they bite and attach to it to feed on blood. They can cause anaemia, irritation or abcesses where they attach and, more importantly, they can spread other diseases, often these may be transmissable to man such as Lyme disease. Pets travelling abroad can pick up many more serious diseases such as Babesiosis or Leishmaniosis.
Treatment is by using tick deterrent collars and spot ons and there is also a specific tick killer spot on.