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Fleas 

Fleas can be a problem, even in a spotless house or on a clean pet. They can be surprisingly hard to spot, even on a short coated and white haired animal and often their presence is suspected rather than confirmed.
 
Signs of infestation include itchiness, scratching, hair loss and scabbiness, particularly over the rump and tail base. Sometimes fleas can be seen moving through the coat and you may see them if you groom your pet using a flea comb. Cats tend to groom excessively rather than scratch and often have harsh, dry feeling hair on their rumps. 

Some animals are allergic to flea bites and even low levels of infestation can cause tremendous itchiness. 

Fleas can also carry infectious diseases and can give your pet tapeworms. 

Fleas spend most of their lives in the environment rather than on the pet and this means they can be hard to spot and also that you will need to treat both pet and house to effectively control flea populations. They can also survive without a host for many months.  

Only adult fleas are usually found on the animal, with eggs and larvae being present in the house rather than on the pet. 95% of the fleas in your home are eggs, larvae and pupae. Only 5% of the population comprises adult fleas.

Flea life cycle:

Eggs are laid which usually hatch in between 2 and 14 days, larvae hatch from the eggs and spend between 5 and 18 days developing before pupating.

Adult fleas can emerge from the cocoon in as few as 4 days but can lay dormant for 12 months or more!

Effective killing of fleas 

Pupating fleas are protected from flea treatments by the shell of the cocoon and will only be killed when they emerge and jump on your pet (assuming they are up to date with an effective flea treatment), or are exposed to flea spray in the environment. 

This means you may continue to see fleas for a few months after starting treatment, but if you are using effective products, the numbers should steadily decline. However, if you are still seeing fleas after 2-3 months, please come and talk to us. 

If you ensure your pet has access to all rooms in the house then fleas will die quicker as they will be exposed to the flea treatment you put on your pet. If pets are not around then fleas are likely to bite family members instead. 

Use a spray with dual activity, i.e. one which both kills adult fleas and prevents eggs and larvae from developing. If you only use an adulticide, you will need to spray every couple of weeks for a number of months.

Treating the house with spray 

Prior to spraying, vacuum your house thoroughly, including your furniture, the areas under and behind your furniture and not forgetting all the little nooks and crannies. 

Read the instructions on the can and where you are concerned about damage to furnishings, do a patch test first. 

Remove all pets prior to treating a room, including small rodents, birds, fish and insects.  Spray products can be very toxic for fish and other exotic pets so manufacturers tend to recommend where it is not possible to remove large fish tanks or vivaria and the room needs to be treated, trying to reduce the risk of problems by covering them with a thick blanket and switching off aerator pumps (and removing them from floor level) during spraying and for 1 hour afterwards. Be aware that tank heating or lighting products may also need to be switched off and consider whether you actually need to treat this room at all. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations first. 

Spray the entire floor area including wooden, laminate or tiled floors, skirting boards, under and behind furniture and all nooks and crannies. 

Also spray or hot wash (where suitable) all pet bedding and soft furnishings. 

Remember to spray other areas where pets spend time such as cars and outbuildings. 

Once the room has been sprayed, open the windows and ventilate for an hour before using. This may need to be longer for children or for people or pets with respiratory disorders.  

Vacuum 24 hours after spraying, and regularly after treating the house (at least twice a week for the two weeks following treatment).

How to get rid of fleas - summary: 

Prevent and kill fleas by using an effective flea treatment for your pet—there are many products out there but please check with your vet first so we can give you advice on what may suit your situation best as part of an overall control strategy. Flea treatments are available in a number of forms, spot-on products are used most frequently but other modalities are available (such as collars and oral medication). 

If you see fleas, treat quickly—not only is the life cycle very short so delaying a couple of weeks means a potentially vastly increased number to get rid of, but fleas can also carry tapeworms and other diseases (we recommend you worm your animals as well with a product which treats tapeworms if fleas are seen). 

As a large part of the life-cycle occurs in the house, rather than on the pet, it is crucial that you treat the house effectively too. If you just use a spot on product on your pet, it will kill fleas which jump on but will not prevent eggs in the house from developing into adult fleas. Use a dual action product which kills adult fleas but  also prevents development of eggs and larvae. 

Clean bedding regularly and vacuum, being sure to throw away your vacuum cleaner dust bag. Ensure you pay particular attention to darker areas such as skirting board cracks and under or behind furniture, as this is where the larvae hide. Don’t forget the car for dogs that regularly travel and pay particular attention to anywhere your pet spends a lot of time such as outbuildings

PRODUCTS SUITABLE FOR ONE SPECIES MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ANOTHER.

SOME DOG PRODUCTS ARE TOXIC TO CATS OR RABBITS.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND IF IN DOUBT, ASK.

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