Fleas and ticks

Ensure you continue to provide preventative treatment against fleas and ticks to your pets in Spring. It helps you to avoid an infestation in your home, which can be tricky to control if it happens.

What are fleas?

Fleas are tiny insects that feed off the blood of our pets. A common error we can make is only treating our pets when we see a flea. Did you know that for every 5 fleas you see on your pet, there are approximately 95 in your home? Fleas tend to live and lay eggs in the environment, jump on our pets to feed, then lay eggs in the environment again. These eggs can then hatch within 2 – 16 days, live in cracks and crevices such as skirting boards and under carpets, and then the life cycle begins again. This is why by the time you actually see an adult flea, you will already have quite a large infestation.

Are fleas harmful to our pets?

Fleas cause our pets to be itchy and uncomfortable. Some pets tolerate fleas better than others and can show very few physical signs. Others can have varying hypersensitivity to flea saliva, resulting in itchy spots at the site of the bites, fur loss, and even secondary bacterial infections. This is called Flea Allergic Dermatitis. Large or prolonged infestations can cause our pets to become anaemic and have a general loss of condition. This is particularly dangerous for pets that are already ill or are elderly.

Are fleas harmful to humans?

Although not as common, fleas can also feed on and bite humans, causing us to become itchy as a result.

How do I stop fleas?

  1. Treat ALL pets in the home. There are many types of fleas including cat, dog and rabbit fleas, and many of these can be passed between species.
  2. Use a vet or SQP recommended product for your pets lifestyle. These can be purchased from your vet, a locked cabinet in a pet store, or a reputable online retailer. It is always best to speak to a veterinary professional regarding which product is best for your pet. Some products treat just fleas, others treat fleas and ticks, and each product kills the parasites at different life stages. Products you can pick up from the shelves of supermarkets or pet stores yourself are often not strong enough to work effectively.
  3. Treat your pets regularly to prevent a flea issue occurring in the first place. Depending on the product you choose, your pet will need treating every 4 to 12 weeks. Treating one pet for three months as a preventative measure costs an average of £10 (that’s £3.33 a month). Once you have a flea problem, it takes on average 3 months to eradicate (sometimes even longer), averaging at about £40.

Note: Never treat a cat with dog treatment and vice-versa as this can be toxic, particularly for cats.

How do I treat an existing flea infestation?

  1. Kill the adult flea on your pet using a Vet/SQP recommended product regularly. We recommend choosing a product with larvicidal properties (kills larvae or immature parasites) and adulticidal properties (kills adult parasites) as this gives significantly better control.
  2. Kill developmental stages of the lifecycle by treating your home. Treat your home with an insecticidal spray to kill any existing larva in the environment and to stop existing eggs developing. A good all-round insecticidal spray is ‘Indorex defence spray’. Before treating your home, hoover thoroughly as this encourages any eggs to hatch.

Directions for indorex:

  • Ensure the room is well-ventilated and any children or pets removed during and 2 hours after treatment.
  • If you have fish or reptiles that you cannot move out of the room, ensure they are in an air tight container and covered with a blanket and follow the instructions on the back of the can. This treatment is particularly toxic to fish and reptiles.
  • Concentrate on dark places, such as under sofas and units and cracks and crevices such as skirting boards.
  • Do not spray directly onto pets.
  • Once treated, this spray protects your home for up to a year.

Wash all bedding, cushions covers, blankets etc. on a hot wash. This eradicates any eggs that may be living on them.

Note: Fleas can carry the tapeworm parasite and can pose a risk to your household. If a flea carrying the tapeworm parasite is ingested by your pet, such as during grooming, or by humans accidentally, it can develop into a tapeworm infestation. Young children and young pets are more at risk of obtaining a tapeworm infestation than adults.  If your pet is showing fleas, check their worming product and ensure it protects against tapeworm.

Why do I still have fleas?

It can take several months eradicate an existing flea problem. Adult fleas will continue to live until they feed on your pet. As long as your pet remains up to date with treatment, the adult fleas will eventually die out as and when they choose to feed or are exposed to a flea product.

What are ticks?

Ticks wait on vegetation for a convenient host to walk by, where they then attach onto your pets and feed off their blood. Ticks can start as small as a pinhead and grow up to 1cm as they feed. They are often difficult to spot, especially when small and they commonly are mistaken for skin tags.

Are ticks harmful to pets?

Having a tick can be uncomfortable for your pet and in some cases can cause anaemia, particularly if your pet has more than one at once. Some ticks can also carry Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection and can make your pet lethargic, give them swollen joints and a temperature amongst other symptoms. Although Lyme Disease isn’t common, it’s important to be aware of it and prevent ticks where you can to eliminate the risk.

Are ticks harmful to humans?

Some ticks carry Lymes Disease which can be transferred onto humans if a tick bites you. A common sign of Lymes Disease in humans is a bullseye rash at the site of the bite. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

How do I stop ticks?

  1. Treat ALL pets in the home for ticks, regularly. Many (but not all) flea treatments also help protect your pet against ticks.
  2. Avoid tick hot spots – ticks are common in wooded and moorland areas, particularly in long grass. If you know ticks are particularly prevalent in your area, try sticking to paths.
  3. Check your pet regularly. By health checking your pet regularly from head to toe, you will ensure existing ticks can be dealt with as soon as possible. The most common place ticks are found include the head, ears, legs and stomach however they can be found pretty much anywhere on your pets body. They can look like skin tags at first and vary in colour. If you look closely you may be able to see legs. If you unsure if you have found a tick, seek advice from a vet.

How do I remove a tick?

The safest way to remove a tick is by using a special tick removal tool. These can be purchased at most vets and pet shops. Never remove a tick by pulling, crushing or squeezing as this normally results in ticks mouth pieces remaining in your pet and becoming infected.

  • Put the tool under the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Twist the tool in one direction until you feel the tick loosen from your pet. Do not pull the tick, it will loosen as you twist.
  • Slowly lift the tool away when you feel the tick loosen, it should stay trapped in the hook.
  • After removing the tick, clean the area and monitor your pet for any signs of illness.
  • Seek advice from your vet if your pet is showing signs of being unwell.
  • If you are not confident removing a tick yourself, take your pet to a vet or call them for advice.

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