Judging by the number of pet owners asking for advice on flea-control, 2012 was an excellent year for these bloodsucking insects. Besides being irritating and unpleasant, do fleas actually present a threat to our pets or ourselves? Broadly, the answer is they aren’t a threat in themselves, but they can contribute to weakening an ill or old pet partly through anaemia. Bites can also become inflamed and infected and, in the process of feeding, fleas can transmit other diseases and infections. Some animals and people are allergic to flea bites and can suffer severe symptoms. There are different types of fleas for cat, dog and humans and while a one type can give another host a good bite, they won’t survive long term. But whatever the type of flea, they’re best avoided wherever possible.
While it is possible to buy flea protection solutions over the counter or on the internet, it is important that they are properly applied and a solution is used that addresses the full life cycle of the flea. Killing the adults that are found on the pet is not enough. Another generation will be developing in egg and pupae stages. So it is essential to apply treatment to the pet regularly, as a flea’s life cycle can last six months. Vacuuming around the home helps to remove some of the problem – but throw out the bag immediately. Similarly a regular deep clean of small pet’s cages or hutches will help. For smaller pets, always use a treatment that is specifically labelled as suitable for them.
Flea combs are an effective method of control and should be part of a good grooming regime. Regular brushing gets your pet used to the process and will ensure it will put up with the more meticulous process of combing for fleas.
For more information on good grooming techniques visit Oster.