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Fleas and Ticks

Fleas

For every adult flea there are 500 potential fleas at various stages in your house in the form of eggs, larvae and pupae.

Fleas are a problem all year round and the most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea.  Occasionally, rabbit fleas are seen.  The most important source of cat fleas is the newly developed adult fleas from the pupae in your house.  Adult fleas live and feed on animals and the female lays the eggs that fall off into the environment.  Under favourable conditions these eggs develop first into larvae and then to pupae.  The pupae contain adult fleas which lie in wait for a suitable host.  90% of the lifecycle is off the pet, so it is important to use an environmental treatment.

Modern, carpeted and centrally heated homes provide ideal conditions for the year round development of fleas.  The highest numbers of flea eggs are found where your pet spends most time.  Just because you can’t see the fleas in your house doesn’t mean you haven’t got them; the eggs are too small to see and the larvae migrate deep into carpets and furniture away from light.  Close contact with other dogs or cats, or sleeping in an area where other animals lie, can also spread fleas.

Some dogs and cats are allergic to flea saliva.  When a flea feeds from a dog or cat, it first injects saliva into the skin.  If your pet is allergic to flea saliva it will groom and scratch excessively causing sores, scabs and skin disease. 

Humans too can be affected by flea bites.  Unsightly raised, itchy bumps appear, usually around the ankles.  This is from recently hatched adult fleas that are lying in wait in the carpet. 

For dogs, consider treating garden sheds, cars and, in the summer, your dog’s favourite outdoor spot.  Bear in mind that your dog may be entering other people’s environments.  A lot of these problems can be overcome by using a really effective and persistent product on any dogs and cats you may have, to kill adult fleas, as well as treating your home.

Fleas are the intermediate host for a type of tapeworm.  Tapeworm eggs, which are shed within tapeworm segments in dog’s faeces, are eaten by flea larvae that develop into infected fleas.  Eating infected flea faeces during grooming will infest both dogs and cats.  Any dog or cat with fleas is likely to have a tapeworm.

Ticks

If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, ticks are another familiar external parasite.  Ticks are oval shaped insects which attach to your pet’s skin in order to feed.  They can resemble a wart-like lump so if you are unsure, always consult your vet.  Never pull a tick off as you may leave the head under the skin causing infection.  The tick DOES NOT need to be killed before removal if a suitable device is used to remove it.  Effective “spot-on” treatment, which will repel and kill ticks, is available from the surgery.


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