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Fleas, a year-round problem for furry pets and their owners

The sun is shining, the weather is warm and the fleas are biting our furry friends – and us too!

Fleas are actually a year-round problem. Although their life cycle accelerates in the warmer humid weather, they don't disappear in the winter.

When fleas bite you or your pet, they feast on your blood and poop out what is affectionately known as 'flea dirt'. This looks a lot like ground pepper, and you might notice it in your pet's coat or on their bed. Each flea can feed up to 15 times in a day which can lead to quite severe anaemia, especially in young animals.

Even indoor pets are not safe from these stubborn invaders. Fleas can easily hitch a ride on anyone entering the house. They are sneaky, tiny and mighty. They can jump 150 times their size – the equivalent of a human being able to jump over a skyscraper!

Once inside your house, one female can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which could lead to an infestation of as many as 20,000 fleas in your house in just a matter of a couple of months. Gross!

At any given time only about ten per cent of the fleas will be on your pet – just the tip of the iceberg. The rest are in your home, hiding in carpets and bedding etc.

Fleas aren't just an itchy nuisance either, they can give your pets tapeworms and other diseases like Bartonella, aka cat scratch fever, which can also be zoonotic (meaning you can catch it too)!

So what can we do about this pesky pest? Flea prevention is much easier than trying to eradicate the fleas once they're already established in your house. It's always best to consult with your veterinarian about the best flea prevention for your animal.

Treating the environment is also helpful – washing any bedding your pet has been in contact with and vacuuming regularly. Environmental flea products like home sprays and foggers should be used with caution, especially around cats as they often contain pyrethrins which can be toxic to them.

It's also essential to make sure every pet in the household is on flea prevention every month so that the fleas can no longer continue to have a life cycle – yes, even that stray kitty that comes inside to eat occasionally! As a mobile veterinarian I find it helps to see pets in their own environment because I'll often notice a sneaky kitty in the house harbouring the fleas that no one has mentioned.

If you've got an itchy scratchy pet, or if you've noticed fleas on them be sure to get them checked out by a vet so we can get those fleas to flee the scene!

Bermudian Erin Jackson graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 2013. She joined the CedarTree Vets team in 2018 and particularly enjoys surgery and dentistry. A self-confessed “crazy cat lady”, she has a menagerie of kitties at home

When fleas bite you or your pet, they feast on your blood and poop out what is affectionately known as 'flea dirt', says veterinarian Erin Jackson

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Published November 25, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated November 25, 2021 at 7:58 am)

Fleas, a year-round problem for furry pets and their owners

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