Frequently Asked Questions » Flea Treatment and Advice

Fleas and your pets

Every year fleas cause lots of problems for dogs and cats. Nearly all untreated dogs and cats have a few fleas, but it is only when numbers increase or your pet becomes allergic to the flea saliva that skin irritation occurs.

What are fleas?
Fleas are wingless insects that live in the fur of your animal. They feed by sucking blood from their host and inject saliva whilst they do so. Some animals can become allergic to this saliva.

Did you know?

How do I know if my pet has fleas?
Adult fleas may be seen on the animal, however this is only a very small percentage of the problem. The best method of detecting fleas is to take a damp piece of white paper and comb your animal over it. The flea debris from the coat will fall onto the paper and a red/brown ring will appear. You may also see white grains that look like sand; these are the flea eggs.

Fleas are tiny and you may not see them but some tell tale signs your pet may show include:

Animals with a severe infestation of fleas may develop anaemia. This can occur just through the loss of blood from the amount of fleas drinking from your pet, and in young animals this can be fatal. In other serious cases, fleas may cause Haemobartonellosis. The condition is rare but affects the red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. The condition can affect both cats and dogs.

Flea Lifecycle
You are more likely to succeed in flea control if you understand their life cycle. Fleas lay eggs that fall off your pets anywhere they go (may look like grains of sand). The eggs hatch out into tiny larval stages which look like small white maggots with black heads. These do not feed on animals but live in cracks and crannies, in upholstery, bedding and carpets, feeding on organic debris (for example skin scurf and flea 'dirts'). When they are ready, the larvae form pupae and inside this larvae form the adult flea.

If temperature or humidity are not right, or even if there is no host around, the fleas remain in the pupae for months or years before emerging and jumping onto the host. Failure in flea control is often due to control measures being stopped too soon while there are still 'fleas in waiting', biding their time. When conditions are not favourable pupae stock pile in the house, a sudden warm humid spell can lead to large numbers of fleas emerging all together.

Fleas will not emerge from the pupae in an empty house (vibration, warmth and carbon dioxide breathed out by mammals tell the fleas a host is near and they emerge in seconds: this is the reason for tales of carpets seething with fleas when a family returns from holiday or moves into a house that has been empty for a while).

Treating Your Pet
Most of the products we stock for treating pets are called 'prescription only medicines'. This means your pet must be under our care by law so we must have seen your pet in the previous 12 months. We do stock some products that are called 'general sale' and these may be sold even if we have never seen your pet. Household sprays are not for use on animals, but there are no restrictions on whom we sell them to. These notes are a guide to the best products available, whichever product you choose make sure you read the instructions that come with the product carefully. Some of the products available include:

Insecticides (Kill Insects):

Insect Grown Regulators (IGR)  

These do not kill the adult fleas feeding on your pet 

Other products available: