After a damp and chilly start to the summer, the recent much warmer weather has brought out one of the worst aspects of owning a cat or dog – the dreaded flea.
The blood-sucking pesky parasites are a curse to pet owners and it’s not just our animals that can easily become infested – it’s our homes, too.
Worse still? They also bite humans, usually around the feet and ankles.
Able to jump an incredible 45cm from a standstill with a horribly efficient ability to reproduce in vast numbers, fleas are difficult to control or eradicate.
If an adult flea attacks your pet, flea eggs will be in your environment within 36 hours, falling from your animal and into your carpets, bedding and home furnishings.
With a single flea able to lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime, a couple of fleas can infest an entire house within a month.
And it’s not just a matter of itchy animals and the thought of fleas ruling the roost: fleas can cause serious health issues to your pets and can actually cause some young kittens and puppies and older animals to suffer anaemia due to blood loss.
Other blood and internal parasites, such as tapeworms, are also commonly spread through fleas and some animals may suffer violent allergies to flea bites that cause them great distress.
Here at Adrian Flux, we want your pets to live a flea-free life, so we’ve put together 10 handy tips to help you eradicate fleas from your pet – and your home.
Flea-proof your pet and your home:
1) Far easier with a dog than a cat, the best way to start flea-proofing your pet is to shampoo them. Some shampoos are available that contain insecticides which can kill fleas immediately. Washing your pet also removes dried blood and skin flakes which severely limits the food source for fleas.
2) Once your pet is dry, add a top-spot treatment to your dog or cat’s back between the shoulder blades. If your pet is long-haired, part the hair so that you can find a patch of skin to apply the treatment to.
3) The active ingredients in top-spot treatments are absorbed into the skin and prevent fleas from being able to use your pet as a host. These treatments are safer for pets and humans than flea powders or collars.
4) Make sure you keep up applications: it only takes one flea for you to be back at square one with an infested house. Apply treatments once a month bearing in mind that for some time there will be newly-hatched fleas from cocoons, which can appear for weeks after you first notice a flea.
5) After you’ve tackled your pet, stick on a pair of rubber gloves and start to flea-proof your home. Vacuum the entire house, making sure you reach all the corners, skirting boards, upholstered furniture and areas underneath furniture and beds. Vibrations from the vacuum cleaner will stimulate fleas to leave their cocoons making them easier to be captured when you repeat the process.
6) Throw away the vacuum bag or dispose of the contents of your vacuum cleaner so that you’re not providing fleas with a convenient place to reproduce and then spread around your house.
7) Use an insecticide designed to protect homes from fleas. Insect growth regulators and insect development inhibitors can be used to alter the lifecycle of fleas which stops them from developing to maturity and therefore laying more eggs.
8) Spray every carpet, every corner and under every piece of furniture in your house. Ideally, don’t vacuum your house for a week to allow the insecticide to carry out its residual effect.
9) Wash pet bedding, blankets, linens and rugs in hot water. Use the hottest water possible and wash anything your pet has been on or near that can fit in the washing machine.
10) If in doubt, contact your veterinarian about the best products to use and in the case of a severe infestation, seek their opinion immediately – your pet may need urgent treatment.
If you have any other flea-beating tricks please share them with us in the comments below.