Fleas are most often seen during the warmer months but as we keep our homes nice and warm throughout winter, we can see fleas all year round. Only a small part of the adult flea population actually lives on your pet. The flea eggs and larvae live in the environment. The common source of flea eggs for your dog are local cats that come through your backyard and shed a few eggs as they go. For this reason it is impossible to prevent pets coming in contact with fleas.
Treatment is aimed at prevent the build up of eggs in the environment. A female flea which jumps on your dog or cat can lay 50 eggs per day within 24 hours of feeding on your pet's blood. If your house has not had a flea problem in the past, treatment with Nexgard, Bravecto or Advocate should be undertaken every month during the spring and summer. The most economical way to do this is to purchase a 6-month multipack in September that will last you through the flea season.
Warning: Some non-veterinary brands of flea treatments for dogs are potentially lethal when applied to cats. Always seek veterinary advice about the best flea treatments for your pet.
If your pet has had fleas, then all year round treatment will be necessary to gradually remove the flea eggs in the environment. In the face of severe infestation your pet may need some additional treatment from your vet to get on top of the initial flea egg burden. Your vet will also discuss strategies to help you remove the flea eggs and larvae from the environment, such as vacuuming and washing bedding. In case of infestation, consider that fleas like dry, dark, dusty places so blocking access to these areas (such as under the house) will be very beneficial.
Fleas will tend to jump onto your pet only to feed and then jump off again. Dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis or FAD. Treatment of FAD can be complicated and veterinary consultation is recommended.
Some signs that your pet may have fleas include:
- Scratching, biting and hair loss, especially at the base of the tail and rump
- Visible fleas (especially over the rump and in the groin region)
- Flea dirt, which is the build up of faeces of the fleas on your pet.
It can be difficult to find adult fleas, but is relatively easy to check for flea dirt. Simply moisten a cotton ball, part your pet’s fur and place the cotton ball on the skin over the rump. If the cotton ball takes on black specs surrounded by a reddish area, this may be flea dirt and can indicate that your pet has fleas.
Please call us to discuss an appropriate flea control program for your pet.