Pesky Parasites Part 2: Fleas

Part 2:Pesky Parasites: Ticks, Fleas and Worms

Fleas

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!

Dog Flea

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.

  • Spot On Treatment: such as Fiprotec Spot On for Cats & Fiprotec Spot On for Dogs. Kills on contact and starts working instantly. May take up to 24hrs to kill all fleas and ticks on the animal. Usually lasts 3 months.
  • Collars: such as Diamante Soft Cat Flea Collar or Reflective Soft Flea Collar. May take a few days for the treatment to spread over the entire surface of the skin although when fully distributed offers the longest protection.
  • Shampoos: such as Insecticidal Dog Shampoo. Kills on contact and works instantly as they are smothered by the product. Those that manage to escape are later killed within 24hrs as treatment continues to spread throughout the coat.
  • Sprays: such as Tick Away Spray, Dog Flea Spray and Cat Flea Spray. Kills on contact and works instantly as they are smothered by the product. Those that manage to escape are later killed within 24hrs as treatment continues to spread throughout the coat.
  • Household Sprays: such as Defest 3 is effective for 3 months and Beaphar Flea Fogger is effective for up to 6 months. Adult fleas are killed within 24hrs together with any larvae that the spray or residue comes into contact with.
  • If you would like any further advice on Fleas, please contact the OSCAR Helpline on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk

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