What is a flea?
These are small black blood sucking parasites that live on cats and dogs and other wildlife. If your pet has fleas you may see “flea dirt”, which is dried black discharge on the skin at the base of the fur. It can be confused with dirt.
Fleas can spread very fast. One flea can lay up to 250 eggs. It doesn’t take many fleas to cause an infestation. Fleas also carry diseases such as Haemobartonella in cats and they can transmit tapeworm if the flea is swallowed during grooming. To eliminate fleas in a house we would advise using a household spray as well which will help to kill the larvae as they hatch out. It is important to treat all the animals as the fleas can jump from one pet to another.
We would suggest flea prevention by using medications such as Stronghold or other “Spot-ons”; Program which prevents the flea’s eggs from hatching (goes on the food); or Comfortis, a tablet which kills fleas within 2-4 hours. There are also long lasting collars which will slowly release the pesticide too.
Please be very careful of some of the commercial spot-ons as some of the dog treatments are very poisonous to cats and there have been deaths.
Most flea prevention is monthly. If your pet chases rabbits or hunts a lot they will be more susceptible to picking up fleas. If you are unsure of which product to use, let us know and we can help. We do offer free of charge flea checkups.
Ticks are also blood sucking parasites that can pass on diseases too but usually ticks are spread by intermediate hosts whereas fleas are not. Ticks can be carried by wild animals such as hedgehogs and rabbits and they drop off to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch out to produce very small ticks often called “seed” or “pepper” ticks. They climb onto grass and then climb onto the nest host that passes by which may be your pet.
Once they find a host they sink their mouth parts into the skin and by producing an anticoagulant they can feed on their host animal. Sometimes pulling ticks off your pets can result in dermatitis or small nodules where the mouth parts were embedded. We sell special tick remover hooks O’Tom that will twist the mouth parts safely out of the skin.
Ticks will not usually breed in a house so topical treatment is the best way to treat and prevent ticks. Collars, spot ons and dips can be used. Ticks are carried by deer too, so if you are visiting areas such as the New Forest or going overseas to areas such as France make sure you are prepared. You are always welcome to ask for advice if you are unsure.
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