Preventing parasites: fleas

Fleas can cause real problems for your pets but, luckily, they’re easy to prevent and regular flea treatment should be part of your pet’s healthcare regime. Your vet can recommend the best product for your pet.

If your pet is suffering from a flea infestation, visit your vet to get advice on the best way to get them back to full health. Treatment should always include all pets and the home.


The problem with fleas

Fleas are a common problem for cats and dogs and can make your pet itchy and uncomfortable – they can even cause allergies and skin problems in some pets. In the worst cases they can make your pet seriously ill. Fleas feed on your pet’s blood so a very young, old or unwell pet can become dangerously anaemic.

Fleas are a problem all year round but especially during the warmer months. It is much easier to prevent an infestation than treat one, so use a preventive treatment regularly.

A common cause of house infestation is people moving into empty houses. The central heating and vibrations ‘wake up’ the flea eggs in the carpets. Treat new homes before you move in and also treat your home regularly. Your local vet or vet nurse can advise which products are the best to use, and how regularly you need to use them.


Preventing fleas

  • Treat all the pets in your home every month with a suitable flea treatment.
  • Regularly wash your pet’s bedding on a hot wash to get rid of any flea eggs that might be lurking there.
  • Use a household spray regularly

Top Tip: Pets with fleas can also develop tapeworm as they groom themselves and swallow the fleas. This is part of the tapeworm lifecycle. If your pet has fleas, use a tapeworm treatment as well as flea treatment.

Permethrin warning: Never use a flea treatment for dogs on your cat – this can be fatal. Many flea treatments for dogs contain permethrin. This chemical can be fatal to cats. Make sure you use a flea treatment specifically for cats and check all household flea sprays for permethrin before you use them around your cat.


Signs your pet has fleas – and how to treat them

If your pet has fleas they’re likely to:

  • Be itching, chewing or licking more than normal.
  • Have red and inflamed skin.
  • Have fleas or flea poo – small, dark flecks – on their fur and skin.

It can be difficult to get rid of a flea infestation and fleas can cause your pet real discomfort. It’s always best to prevent fleas by regularly giving your pet a suitable flea treatment.

If your pet does get fleas:

  • Take them to your vet for advice.
  • Treat all pets in your household to make sure fleas don’t pass from one pet to another.
  • Hoover your home to get rid of any fleas in your furniture and carpets.
  • Treat your home with a household flea spray to kill fleas and flea eggs. If you have cats, make sure this spray doesn’t contain permethrin as this chemical is toxic to cats.
  • Pay special attention to places your pet spends a lot of time in, like the sofa or bed, as well as around fires and radiators – fleas love these warm areas.