Fleas - don't get caught on the hop!
Here’s to everything happy for the New Year, but unfortunately fleas don’t take a break and that can make you and your pets very unhappy!
During the winter months fleas usually breed indoors, making the most of the central heating! Adult female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day and these fall off your pet onto carpets, furniture and bedding. The eggs can remain dormant for many months, but equally in warm centrally heated conditions, they will rapidly hatch out (via larval stages, ie eggs, larvae, pupae, adult flea) into more fleas and you then have a repeat of the problem you thought you had treated!
The answer? Year round veterinary flea treatment.
Veterinary standard products are extremely effective in killing fleas before they lay their eggs, thus preventing house infestations. Some even work before they bite (vital for sensitive pets) and some can also have a positive effect on the environment. Many veterinary spot-ons are multi-purpose and kill other parasites including scabies, ear mites, ticks and worms.
Flea products bought from supermarkets or pet shops aren’t particularly effective as they don’t kill the flea quickly. This gives the flea time to feed, mate and lay further eggs before dying. Also you should be aware that many spot-ons purchased from supermarkets contain permethrins – although safe for dogs, permethrins are extremely toxic to cats!
Do you know how to check for fleas? Part your pet’s fur and if you find specks of flea dirt (reddish in colour) – sorry, but this is their faeces, then you know you have a problem. This of course, is assuming you haven’t already spotted live fleas hopping around.
One size doesn’t fit all. So discussing the options with your vet is the best way forward for preventative health care for your pet and keeping your pet and your home flea-free.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.