header image
 

flea treatment

It’s that time of the year again- Flea Season.

There are reports of flea infestations all over the UK with this spring. It may be wet, but it’s not cold and these conditions are perfect for fleas to reproduce.

But don’t get jealous; my step by step guide to getting your very own flea infestation will have you itching and scratching in no time.

1/ Get A Cat.

Cats are more prone to fleas than dogs, especially if they are allowed outside. The way they share observation points and routes with neighbouring cats, and range over a larger territory than the average dog makes it more likely that a pet cat will bring fleas into your house, and so initiate an infestation.

I have seen many, many flea infestations where the only pet in the household is a cat. It’s much more unusual to see a full infestation in a home with only a dog, but it can happen.

Remember, any fleas you see on your pet(s) are only 5% of the problem. So if you see 5 fleas, then you can count on there being at least 500 immature fleas spread out around your animals living area.

That’s what you call value for money!

2/ Have More Than One Pet.

If you have more than one dog or cat sharing your home, you are more likely to get fleas.

All you need is one adult flea to bite one of your pets, and start to lay eggs which get scattered anywhere that pet goes, and you have the beginnings of a flea infestation.

It’s not hard to understand that the more pets you have, the more likely it is that you’ll get flea eggs in the house. And where you have flea eggs,  you’ll find larvae, pupae and newly hatched adults.

This is the holy grail of parasitic infestations; a complete flea life cycle. Once you get to this stage, your flea infestation will be with you for weeks, no matter how much you spend on pet or household treatments.

3/ Wait Until Your Pets Have Fleas Before You Treat Them.

As mentioned above, once you see your pet scratching or actually see fleas on them, you’ve already got a household of blood-sucking guests just waiting to hatch or pupate.

And if you go away on holiday while you have a household flea infestation, the life cycle continues up until the pupal stage, then stops. Before they hatch, the pupae need signs that  there is something nearby for them to feed from.  These signals of humidity, vibration and carbon dioxide stimulate the baby fleas to hatch, but if these signs are absent, everything stops until you get home from holiday and walk into the room. Then suddenly all those pupae get the signal to hatch and emerge, ready to leap on the closest warm blooded thing to feed.

So if you arrive home from holiday, and suddenly notice tiny insects using your ankles as a snack bar; congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a household full of newly hatched fleas.

4/ Don’t De-flea All Of Your Pets.

Just treat the ones that come inside the most, or the easiest ones to treat, or just the dogs, or even just the cats. But don’t treat them all.

That way, the untreated ones can reinfect the treated ones, and your house can still get infected as well.

Despite your spending good money on flea treatment for those pets you do treat, you’ll be dealing with a flea infestation before you can slap your ankles and start scratching.

5/ Treat Your Pets With ‘Alternative’ Remedies.

Don’t bother buying tried and tested veterinary approved flea treatments.

They are expensive and if they can kill fleas, then who knows what they are doing to your pets and household?

Instead go online and google ‘natural flea treatment’. Instantly, you’ll have half a dozen proven remedies to hand.  If the first one you try doesn’t seem to work, then just move onto the next.

By the time you’ve run through the entire list, you’ll be being bitten by hungry fleas every time your feet touch the ground.

Of course, if you’ve come to this post looking for information telling you how NOT to get fleas, then you’ll need to read this post, instead

 

 

It used to be that some worming tablets every 3 months, and Frontline or Advantage drops on the back of the neck every month was considered enough to keep the beasties that would live on or in our dogs, away.

But now there is Angiostrongylus vasorum (also known as French Heartworm) . The adult worm lives in the heart and lung’s blood vessels of infected dogs where it can cause a worryingly diverse range of symptoms.

This parasite has only became a serious problem in the South West over the last decade but now, if you live anywhere in the UK, and own a dog, you should be aware of it. Infected dogs have been found as far north as Scotland and cases in the Midlands are not unknown. A warmer climate has been cited as a reason for this spread.

Whatever the reason, it’s time dog owners took a good look at whether their parasite control is up to the job.

Angiostrongylus vasorum is passed onto dogs when they eat slugs or snails infected with the larval stages of this parasite. The lungworm larvae travel through your dog’s body and eventually end up in the heart and arteries of the lung. If the infection is left untreated, adult lungworms develop, causing a range of signs that can include breathing difficulties, lethargy and coughing. Infected dogs will infect local slugs and snails by contaminating the environment with their faeces, and the life cycle begins again.

At this point you may be thinking ‘My dog doesn’t eat slugs or snails, so he’ll be ok.’ Perhaps he will. It is true a large percentage of dogs that are infected were known slug-or-snail eaters. But others weren’t.

Maybe your dog eats grass, or drinks from ponds or chews on toys that are left outside in the garden overnight? It’s quite possible a dog could ingest an infected mollusc this way. And some dogs  have become infected through eating frogs, which can carry the lungworm.

Most infected dogs make a good recovery with the right treatment if given early enough, so any coughing dog should be checked out by a vet sooner, rather than later. Other signs to watch out for are weight loss, lethargy or breathing difficulties.

If left untreated, A.vasorum can cause more serious signs of ill-health including bleeding internally, or even into the brain. French Lungworm can kill.

As always, prevention is best. Your usual flea or worm treatment probably does not protect against lungworm.

Advocate is a spot-on treatment that is applied monthly and is effective against fleas, heartworm, gastrointestinal worms (hookworm, roundworm and whipworm), sarcoptic mange, demodicosis and ear mites. It is a Prescription-only medicine is available from your vet.

 

 

 

This is a gentle reminder for those of you who stop treating your pets regularly for fleas over the winter.
I’ve seen three animals with obvious fleas over the last week, and one of them belonged to me!

So start treating, but first check you are treating effectively:

Buy something that works.
Don’t bother with the many cheap flea ‘repellents’ sold in supermarkets and pet shops. They may scare off the odd, half-hearted flea but if you have an infestation you might as well flush your money down the loo.
 I recommend Advantage, Frontline, Stronghold or Advocate. These monthly spot on treatments can be bought from your vet, some pet shops and on-line (some require a prescription).Some suit different pets better than others, so try another if you aren’t happy with the one you are using.
Swap treatments every now and again to prevent resistance developing.
If you are treating because you’ve noticed fleas, then worm your pet with something that treats tapeworms at the same time.

Make sure you are using the right strength.
You’ll need a rough idea of what your pet weighs especially if they are at the upper or lower limit for a pack.
Seek advice if you aren’t sure what strength pack to get. These products are usually very safe and it’s hard to overdose your pet with them but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And under dosing puts your pet at risk of fleas, despite being treated,

Read The Instructions.
The important stuff is printed on that slip of paper that you throw away once you’ve opened the pack, so hang onto it in case you have any questions later.
The treatments recommended above are all designed to be applied to the back of the neck, between the ears and shoulder blades. This is to stop your pet from being able to lick at the treatment.
Don’t treat your pet within 3 days of bathing or swimming as it can reduce the effectiveness of these products.

And remember, treat ALL of the pets in your household if you want to prevent an infestation this summer. It’s always cheaper and easier to treat regularly, than deal with a major flea problem.