Fleas are a total nuisance, as those of us with pets will know. They're tiny, quick, and next to impossible to get rid of once they take up residence. But treating fleas effectively would probably be a whole lot easier if there weren't so many myths surrounding them.
So, to help you in your quest against these pesky little bloodsuckers and to keep your pets and homes flea-free, let's take a look at some of the top myths doing the rounds and compare them to the actual reality!
1) Fleas live on pets, not in homes - although fleas are typically introduced to the home by a pet, once there, flea populations waste no time in multiplying and can thrive in the warm refuge of your home. This means it is not enough to simply treat your pet and consider the problem solved. By leaving the household untreated, you are missing roughly 80-90% of the developing flea population, which spells trouble for your pets who can quickly reinfect themselves!
Tackle the problem head-on by regularly washing all toys, bedding and fabrics in the home, and administer a topical treatment (such as a spot-on) to your pet every month. Vacuum your carpets and use a household flea spray like Johnson's House Flea Spray to treat the environment.
2) Indoor pets can't get fleas - wouldn't it be lovely if this were true? Unfortunately, even pets that spend most of their time inside are susceptible to fleas, which can be carried in on clothes and other pets. That fleas only live in carpets is another myth; in fact, fleas will live in all manner of places, including the cracks of floorboards and along skirting boards.
3) I only have to treat when I see fleas - just because your dog isn't scratching, doesn't mean he doesn't have fleas or that you shouldn't administer a preventative treatment to keep them at bay. As with many things, prevention is so much easier than cure, so even if you don't see fleas, you should always treat for them just in case. Trying to tackle a problem once it manifests can take weeks and even months to resolve, which is a lot of hassle, discomfort and expense in the meantime.
These days there's really no such thing as 'flea season' so ideally you should aim to de-flea your pet monthly. Be extra vigilant with outdoor cats as they may need treating more regularly.
4) Fleas have become resistant to certain topical treatments - in reality, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, which is based mainly on vague anecdotal information. If you have any queries about the effectiveness of your spot-on, it is best to speak to your vet as other factors could be at play.
5) Beside causing itching, fleas are harmless - not only can flea bites trigger severe skin allergies such as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), fleas are also carriers of tapeworm which can infect dogs and cats if fleas are accidentally swallowed. The flea stage is necessary to the life cycle and reproduction of the tapeworm Dipylidium caninum, which thrives in the small intestines of dogs and cats. If your pet does contract tapeworm, as well as treating the worms, you will also need to manage the flea problem at hand, otherwise your pet will quickly become reinfected.
If you have any comments on this discussion, or would like us to dispel any other myths, please let us know by commenting below! Alternatively you can email me directly: [email protected]
Written by: Hannah Dyball