Pesky Parasites Part 2: Fleas
Part 2:Pesky Parasites: Ticks, Fleas and Worms
There are a number of different fleas in the UK. The most common type of flea to be found in our homes is the ‘Cat Flea’. Although named the ‘Cat Flea’, it is one of the most common fleas to be found on dogs and, unlike other fleas, it is able to feed and breed on both dogs and cats.
Apart from the dreaded ‘Cat Flea’, each species of flea needs its own specific host to feed and breed. Fleas have been known to bite and feed from humans but can only breed from their specific host.
Unfortunately, fleas are partial to a warmer climate (between 18 and 17 °C) so with rising temperatures in summer, and fires, wood burners and indoor heating in winter, we have unwittingly created the perfect environment to keep them active all year!
What are they?
Fleas are small, jumping insects which feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Fleas don’t have wings, so they cannot fly, but they do have very powerful hind legs that enable them to jump - over eighty times their own height! This jumping ability helps them to move from one host to another, and their sleek body shape also means they can move through fur and feathers very efficiently. They are dark brown in colour and between 2 and 3mm in length.
Fleas can live up to 90 days on our pets and, if the conditions are right, any eggs laid in our homes can lie dormant for up to a year!
Fleas and ticks have favourite places to feed: the groin, belly, armpits, base of the tail and around the back end of our pets are common sites. Sometimes small red spots can be found on the body where fleas have fed.
If our pets have fleas we may see them itching around the area they have been bitten. The itching seems to relieve the irritation. Some pets that are more sensitive may have slight reactions to fleas and some can develop Flea Allergy Dermatitis causing severe itching and discomfort.
If you think that your pets are excessively scratching or chewing themselves then contact your vet for further advice.
Treatment & Prevention
They say prevention is better than cure and here at OSCAR we agree! There is no way of stopping fleas and ticks from jumping or climbing onto our pets, especially if they enjoy the outdoors. But don't despair - there are plenty of preventive measures to limit the chances of coming into contact with these creepy critters.