Fleas live on the pet’s skin and are therefore called ectoparasites. It is a common misconception that an animal only contracts fleas by coming into contact with another flea ridden animal. This is not correct!
Signs to look out for
You usually cannot see fleas on your pet's coat as they are very good at hiding. Some people will get bitten themselves although the fleas will not live on humans. You may see the presence of flea dirt (droppings) in your pet’s coat or on bedding and your pet may scratch. To determine whether the black specks are flea dirt, comb off onto white wet tissue. Within a few seconds flea dirt will produce a red mark. Fleas cause your pet to be uncomfortable with itchy skin. Some pets also develop an allergy to flea bites causing severe skin problems and hair loss. A severe flea infestation can also cause anaemia. Fleas can also carry tapeworm, which the pet will also catch. Only adult fleas live on the pet. The rest of the flea lifecycle is spent living in both your home (carpets, curtains, under furniture) and the outside environment.
How do animals get fleas?
Fleas don’t tend to jump from one pet to another. When on the pet, fleas lay eggs that are not sticky, which then fall off the animal into the environment. The fleas which hatch out of these eggs then jump on to any passing animal, be it a pet, or a wild animal, or even a human! Central heating has created a perfect environment for flea breeding and most flea eggs will be found in areas where the pet favours to lie. There are many more eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment (95%) than fleas on a pet (5%). Therefore, it is much easier to prevent flea problems by using an effective flea lifecycle killing product, than to wait until a flea problem arises and then to try to eradicate it.
Fleas can be effectively prevented by using lifecycle flea treatments that can only be prescribed by your vets. Regular treatment is essential to stop the problem from recurring. If your pet has a flea problem, you may need to treat your environment and the problem may take several weeks or even months to eradicate. This does not mean the flea control provided is not working. Both dogs and cats in the household should be treated even if only one animal suffers with a flea-related problem. Flea treatments for dogs and cats are not the same. You should never give a cat a dog flea treatment or vice versa. In some cases this could actually kill your pet.