A flea will only spend about 5% of its life on your cat or dog, the rest of the life cycle is spent in beddings, carpets or furnishings in your house. Although you need to treat your pet, this alone will not be enough to control an outbreak of fleas. To prevent re-infestation, you must break the life cycle of the flea. Many products now include an ingredient known as an Insect Growth Regualator (IGR), this helps to prevent the flea egg from hatching.
If left untreated, flea infestation can cause severe irritation and pets can become allergic to flea saliva, leading to sores on the skin and hair loss. In extreme cases flea infestation could lead to anaemia or even death.
Life cycle of the flea. The life cycle of a flea can be completed within three weeks in warm conditions, but can take up to a year or more. To prevent re-infestation, it is necessary to break the life cycle which is in four stages:
1.Eggs: 50% of the life cycle.
Hundreds of eggs are laid, usually on to your pet, but then fall off into bedding or furnishings etc, where they hatch into larvae
2.Larvae: 35% of life cycle
Larvae feed on organic matter (flea droppings) and then spin a cocoon and become pupae, hidden in the furnishings.
3.Pupae: 10% of life cycle
May develop into adult fleas within a week, but can lay dormant at this stage for considerable time.
4.Adult flea: 5% of life cycle.
The flea emerges form its cocoon when the temperature is right or in response to vibrations caused by your pet or a human and jumps onto its host for a meal. Eggs then start to be laid and the whole cycle begins again.
Signs of flea infestation:
Constant scratching or biting the coat, skin or coat problems, twitching back muscles.
If you suspect fleas, check the coat closely, if you see any black dirt on the skin try combing some out onto a piece of damp cotton wool. If a red circle forms around the dirt, this indicates that it is flea dirt.
How to rid your pet of fleas.
Follow the 4 step plan to rid you pet of fleas.
1) Treat your pet – there are huge range of flea drops, aerosols, sprays and powders available
2) Treat your home – household flea sprays and carpet powders reduce the risk of infestation. Products that contain an IGR are the most effective.
3) Furture prevention – flea collars, used with a flea and grooming comb, can protect your pet fromadult fleas for up to five months. Carpets and soft furnishings should be treated periodically with a suitable household treatment. Wash pet bedding frequently.
4) Worm your pet – fleas are carriers of tapeworm eggs and are a major cause of worm infestation in cats and dogs.
Worm infestation is very common in dogs and cats and cause serious distress especially in puppies and kittens. As animals can become infected at any time and therefore, routine treatment is recommended for the two main types of worms:
Roundworms: Similar to an earthworm in shape (although much thinner). Roundworms are whitish in colour and live in the intestine or stomach and can grow up to about 8 centimetres in length.
Round worms are usually present in puppies and kittens and if left untreated can lead to serious illness or even death. All puppies and kittens should be treated for roundworms every two weeks before weaning, and then several times more up to the age of 6 months.
Tapeworm: these consist of whiteish segments with a head that attaches itself to the intestine. Mature segments of the tape break away and may be seen around the base of the tail (resemble a grain of rice). Not normally found in puppies and kittens, however periodic dosing is recommended from the age of 6 months,
It is recommended that you worm your pet 3 – 4 times a year.
Always ask for advice if you are unsure about the best products to use on your pet. Never use a dog flea treatment or wormer on cats!