Vet’s flea warning to all dog and cat owners in the UK

Sightings of fleas tend to rise in the warmer months as they thrive in warm, humid environments

Joe Middleton
Thursday 14 March 2024 21:00 GMT
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Increase in fleas and ticks raises concerns for pet owners

A vet has warned dog and cat owners to be wary of fleas during the colder months as the pests are not just “a summer thing”.

Fleas can lay dormant for long stretches of time and their bites can cause irritation to the skin of pets and their owners - while proving a nuisance to get rid of in the home.

Sightings of the pests tend to rise in the warmer months as they thrive in warm, humid environments, which allow them to develop from an egg to a fully grown adult in just 14 days.

A vet says many owners only see fleas as a summer problem, but they can still be an issue when it’s colder
A vet says many owners only see fleas as a summer problem, but they can still be an issue when it’s colder (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

But Jamie Walker, a vet and technical services manager at global veterinary pharmaceuticals company Dechra, has warned pet owners to stay vigilant even when it’s cold.

He told The Wirral Times: “Many owners only see fleas as being ‘a summer thing’ and aren’t treating their pet for them this time of year.

“Flea eggs can be brought into your home on your cat or dog’s coat, and then they can remain undetected for some time. Fleas can not only make your pet very irritated, but they can also invade your house and make family members feel itchy too.”

Fleas can be very difficult to detect as they hide deep in the fibres of carpets and furniture.

Their eggs can lay dormant and undetected for months - even up to a year - before hatching and jumping onto a host.

When active, a small flea problem can escalate very quickly, with some flea species laying between 25 and 40 eggs per day.

The most common indications of a flea issue are itchy bites or skin irritation, particularly around the legs and ankles, usually with two or three bites in close proximity.

Fleas could be resisted by regularly cleaning and checking pets, washing pet bedding at above 50°C, vacuuming floors and furniture, and placing pet beds in areas without carpets.

A flea infestation can cause considerable problems. In 2019 a flea outbreak forced the evacuation of a police station in north-eastern Paris.

France’s Alliance police union said the infestation made the working conditions “intolerable” and that several officers had suffered bites.

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