How to help get rid of fleas

Fleas not only exist on your pet but also in the environment, either as eggs, pupae or larvae.

Fleas not only exist on your pet but also in the environment, either as eggs, pupae or larvae. This makes it very difficult to get rid of them and is the reason why they are so persistent. In fact 95% of fleas are found in your pet’s surroundings. So as well as directly treating your pets, you also need to treat your pet’s environment.

Follow the steps below to tackle the flea problem:

Step 1: Treat your pet for fleas

This is the most important aspect of flea treatment. Directly treating your pet can come in many forms, you can purchase flea treatments from your local supermarket, online, or from your veterinary surgery. The most common way of treating your pet is either using a spot-on or an oral tablet. Both methods of treatment are effective, however using a spot-on kills new fleas on contact, whereas the use of an oral treatment means that new fleas have to first bite your pet before being killed. To ensure these treatments are as effective as possible, it is vital that you use them every 4 weeks to fully disrupt the flea’s lifecycle.

Step 2: Make sure all other cats and dogs in your household are treated with suitable flea treatment

Any pet in your household can act as a host for fleas.

Step 3: Vacuum thoroughly

Fleas thrive in places that are dark and humid around your home, so it’s essential to vacuum in the cracks and crevices and under the furniture. Don’t forget to vacuum any furniture in the house where your pets like to relax or sleep.

Step 4: Wash your pet’s bedding above 60°C

Make sure to wash your pet’s bedding on a high temperature. Once washed, put their bedding in the dryer to increase the chance of killing off any fleas.

Step 5: Use a flea comb

Once the spot-on has started to take effect, a flea comb can be used to help remove any remaining fleas. When using your comb there is a method of best practice. Begin by combing the ears and the head of your pet, then move on to combing under the chin (fleas like to collect here). Next, comb down the back of your pet’s head, neck and back. Finally, comb your dog’s tail and legs. It is good to have a bucket of warm soapy, water with you to clear the comb of any fleas.

Step 6: Use environmental spray throughout the house

Find a flea spray that contains an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator).  As with vacuuming, it is best to spray these products in the hard to reach cracks and crevices, furniture, floors and your pet’s bedding. An environmental spray containing an IGR will reduce the number of flea eggs and larvae in your home before they develop into pupae, reducing the length of time of a possible infestation.

Step 7: Allow treated pets into infested areas

Allowing your treated pet back into an infested area will kill the remaining eggs and larvae that have newly hatched into adult fleas which have been missed. The new adult fleas will then be killed by Flick spot-on, as it continually protects your pet for 4 weeks. Despite using an environmental spray and vacuuming the home thoroughly, some fleas will always missed. Following all of these steps will significantly reduce the likelihood of your pet getting affected by fleas.

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Why are fleas such a persistent problem?

Fleas, every pet owner's nightmare. Unfortunately, there is no escaping them. The majority of our pets currently have, or have had, a flea problem at some point. They are, without a doubt, the most common persisting complaint for vets today. Fleas can be picked up from wild animals, the environment (carpets etc) or from contact with other domesticated animals with a flea problem. Humans can even bring fleas home if they have been in an infested environment. Do not panic though, fleas will not preferentially live on a human if there are dogs or cats in the house.

Flea dirt – a sign of fleas

Fleas are often undetectable to the untrained eye. More often than not, it's flea dirt that can be spotted hiding close to your pet's skin. Flea dirt looks like tiny black dust which, when put on wet kitchen roll, leaks a red colour onto the white paper. Flea dirt is essentially digested blood. If flea dirt is found when brushing your pet, it is almost a certainty that they have live fleas on them somewhere.

The flea life-cycle

The nature of the flea lifecycle is what makes them hard to keep under control and ultimately eradicate. Live adult fleas living on a host can lay up to 50 eggs per day. When you have a few adults living on a pet, this can soon add up. Flea eggs fall to the floor and disappear into the carpet, between wooden floorboards and into rugs. Eggs hatch into larvae (small worm-like creatures) who survive on mostly flea dirt and other organic matter for nutrition. Larvae in turn become a pupae (similar to a butterfly lifecycle). An adult flea hatches from a pupae.

How to treat fleas

here are countless methods of preventing and eradicating flea infestations both on your pet and in your home. It is a sobering fact that around 95% of the flea population (taking into account eggs/larvae/pupae) are actually in the home, rather than on your pet. So, rigorous vacuuming under all furniture can help reduce the environmental life-stages of the flea. Household sprays can remove eggs/larvae  from the environment also. In severe infestations, the council may have to be brought in to treat the whole house from top to bottom.

Treatment and prevention for your pet can come in many forms, both from a supermarket, online, or from your veterinary surgery. At the end of the day, you must find the product that works best for you and your pet. It should be noted that preventing a flea infestation is far easier than trying to get rid of one. So, be proactive and start protecting your pet now, if you don't already! It is said that in order to treat a flea problem it is best to treat your pet every 4 weeks, to fully disrupt the flea’s lifecycle. Remember, fleas are not just a nuisance to your pet, they can potentially spread other parasites such as tapeworms, as well as causing life-threatening anaemia in severe infestations.

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