Fleas? Where do they come from and how to get rid of them
Just like every other animal, fleas breed. In fact they are rather good at it. A female flea will lay eggs every day of her adult life. These tend to fall off the animal and are never seen. However they hatch and develop as minute larvae, living in the nooks and crannies of your home. Carpets and the gaps between floor and skirting boards make a wonderful nursery for these little blighters. When they are ready they hop onto the next passing warm and furry creature and get ready to lay more eggs, and so the cycle goes on. The trouble lies in the fact that for every one flea on your pet there might be 100 eggs or developing immature fleas, living out of sight in your home. This means that by the time we notice any fleas at all, there are usually vast numbers developing in the background, ready to launch their “attack”. In fact, switching on the central heating in the autumn tends to fool the dormant army into thinking it is springtime. They all develop at once and suddenly they can seem to be everywhere. If there are enough of them they might bite you as well!
So what can we do about them? Well the best thing is to keep your pets protected all year round so that a flea problem does not get started. Any animal which goes outside at all is at risk of picking up the occasional flea. Hedgehogs and other small mammals can carry them, leaving a few in your garden. Using an effective treatment all year round is the best answer. If you do not do this and you then see fleas (this usually happens in the autumn) then it is highly likely that there are going to be masses of them living in the house, with only a tiny fraction of the population living on your pet. So if you treat your pet with a perfectly effective product one week, by the next week it might be crawling with them again. They will not be the same fleas that you saw in the previous week, just the next wave of invaders. This means that you should treat your house as well. Households where there are cats and dogs together tend to suffer the greatest flea problems, but even single cat households can be affected. It is important to treat every animal in the house, and vital to treat the house too.
Products to use against fleas
So called “spot-on” products are the most popular. The original brands contained organo-phosphorus compounds and were not very safe. They have gone off the market now and all modern treatments are likely to be very safe. The most effective ones tend only to be sold through vets, some pharmacies and a few specialist retailers. Ones which can be bought from pet shops and supermarkets do not contain the same ingredients and are usually not nearly as effective. Frontline Spot-on is often regarded as the best flea treatment currently available. It can be bought without a prescription from your vet by following the procedure on this website. Alternatively there are a number of very effective prescription flea treatments which we can provide if you get a prescription from your vet and send it to us.
To treat the household there are a number of good products. We recommend “Acclaim” or “Indorex” sprays. The main thing to remember is to treat the whole house as fleas are very mobile. Follow the directions on the can and make sure you buy enough of the product to treat everywhere.
It is also helpful to vacuum clean any carpets or other areas where pets tend to rest, and dispose of the dust and debris outside. Also put any bedding which your pet uses through the washing machine – this will destroy huge numbers of eggs and developing larvae.
Remember that fleas have existed for a very long time and are very good at surviving unnoticed. It is best not to wait until you see them, because then they will have got a huge head start. Treat regularly as a precaution and you will not go far wrong. CAUTION - do not use petshop dog treatments on cats - this can be very dangerous and is associated with numerous poisoning cases every year.
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