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The Truth about Cats and Dogs... and Fleas!

Dealing with fleas is every pet owner’s worst nightmare. Left unchecked, they can wreak havoc on our pets, our home, and our health!  

  

This blog will help you find out about what they are, where they come from, and, most importantly, how to get rid of them.  

   

What are fleas?  

There’s more to fleas than just making our pets itchy. They’re tiny, blood-sucking parasites who survive by sucking the blood of other mammals. They have long legs - perfect for jumping - and can vary in colour from light brown through to black. 

 

An adult flea can be from 1 to 4 mm long and there are well over 2,000 species of flea in the world!  

The most common in the UK is Ctenocephalides Felis, better known as the ‘Cat Flea’.  

But don’t be fooled by its name; it will also happily use a dog as its host too!  

   

How do fleas get onto my pet?  

The most common way your pet picks up fleas is when an adult flea hops on from either the garden, the park, the pub, etc. Nowhere is safe! 

If your pet stays at home rather than a wanderer, well unfortunately they are still at risk. Fleas can infiltrate your home by ‘hitch-hiking’ on your shoes and clothes.  


The simple truth is, fleas are all over the place, and avoiding them is nearly impossible.  

The best thing you can do is make sure your pet is always armed against them with monthly (or as often as you can) protection against parasites.  

   

How do I know if my pet has fleas?  

Have you noticed your pet has a good old scratch? It might now be time to check for fleas.  

Incorporating a flea comb into your pet's regular brushing routine is perhaps the easiest way to do this. As well as taking the opportunity to check your pet's skin for fleas (you should be able to spot the little blighters), some of them will be captured in the fine-tooth comb.  

  

It’s important to note that excessive scratching or chewing could also be caused by an allergy, such as Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD). This is the most common allergic skin disease in pets and is caused by an allergy to flea saliva.  

If you notice your pet’s hair falling out or if their skin is red and/or bleeding, seek advice from your vet.  

   

Why do I need to protect my pet against fleas?  

Fleas can make your pet's life a downright misery, thanks to the itchiness they cause.  

Remember: fleas are partners in crime with tapeworms!  

  

If your pet accidentally eats a flea, that flea could be a host for tapeworms too, meaning your pet is infected. Tapeworms can also infect and make people very poorly, especially young children!  

  

Some think that humans can catch fleas too. This is not strictly true; humans can’t catch fleas, but they can still be bitten and infected with the diseases fleas carry, such as 'Bartonella', better known as ‘cat scratch disease’.  

   

What do I do if I spot a flea?  

Firstly, you need to decide if the fleas you can see are alive or dead. A good way to test for this is to use the ‘damp cotton wool’ test.  

Run a piece of damp cotton wool over your pet’s fur. If the dirt turns red, the fleas aren't dead, and you need to move quickly before things get out of hand.  

Your pet is ultimately where fleas will end up, but 95% of them live in your home first.  

Treat your pet and your home to get one step in front of the problem.  

   

  • Treat your home first: You need to tackle the source of the existing infestation first, or soon you will find yourself right back at square one. Wash all your soft furnishings on a hot wash, hoover like there’s no tomorrow, and invest in a decent household flea spray to help quickly eradicate fleas in one swift swoop.  

 

  • Treat your pet: Once you’ve treated your home, make sure to treat your pet with a specialist flea treatment. This will take care of any fleas living on your pet and any newbies that try to hop on to them for a full month afterwards.  

   

How do I prevent my pet from getting fleas in the first place?  

Avoiding fleas is a virtually impossible task, so it’s important that you treat your pet once a month with a high-quality flea treatment (or as high quality as you can afford) as this really does help. 

  

After all, we know that prevention is better than cure. 

 

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