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Pet Passengers

With the warmer weather now with us, beware flea eggs lurking in carpets and bedding, or outside in parks and gardens as these will start to hatch and develop into adult fleas!

Worse still, adult fleas are very able hoppers and will quickly make their home in your pet’s coat, where they will repeatedly feed on their blood. Fleas can cause a multitude of problems including skin itchiness, rashes, infections, hair loss and in extreme cases, anaemia. If all of this isn’t bad enough, they can bite us as well!

Most troubling of all is that a single adult flea can lay around 50 eggs per day! These fall off your pet and are deposited in carpets, bedding and also outside areas. Whilst the eggs can sometimes remain dormant for many months, in warm weather they will rapidly hatch out and develop (via larval stages) into adult fleas. As a result, it is easy to see how a small number of flea eggs can lead to a flea problem of epidemic proportions in just a few weeks!

Ticks are another problem to contend with at this time of year. In contrast to fleas, ticks live in areas of long grass, woodland and heathland, waiting to attach themselves to passing pets. Once attached, ticks feed on your pet’s blood, sometimes for several days.

Ticks can cause problems in two ways: firstly they can sometimes cause quite marked tissue reactions at the attachment site and secondly, while feeding, they can transmit dangerous infections such as Lyme disease and Babesiosis.

How to be a parasite detective! Fleas: specks of flea ‘dirt’ (faeces) in the coat indicate the presence of fleas. You can confirm these specks are flea faeces by performing a wet paper test. If you hold a piece of moist white paper near your pet and scratch his coat, you may see fragments of flea ‘dirt’ fly onto the paper where they dissolve, yielding a characteristic reddish blotch, which confirms the presence of fleas.

Ticks: parting the coat reveals a tick in situ with buried mouth parts.

Don’t let these pesky parasites make your life a misery ­ ensure you are up-to-date with flea and tick control and remember that not all treatments are the same ­ your vet will advise on the best treatments for you and your pet ­ ensure you check these today!

Chris Devlin is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. For more information visit