Pet Advice flea-treatment

Published on January 10th, 2014 | by Debbie Martin


Cosy Winter Homes – For Pet Fleas

Our pets don’t get fleas in winter, right? Well, fleas certainly become less active at this time of year and if you keep your pets outside the chances are that any problems with fleas will be radically reduced. However, the idea that domestic pets are flea-free during the colder months is based on established wisdom. Unfortunately, the main problem with established wisdom is that some of it was established a long time ago and, in the case of pet fleas, largely before the advent of widespread domestic central heating. Today our homes are better insulated and better heated during the winter months than they have been in previous years. The days of a single extra bit of coal on the fire as the temperatures drop are long gone and when the thermostats go up the fleas, annoyingly, wake up.

A Perfect Environment

Thanks to the idea that fleas die off in winter, many pet owners still drop the treatment regime for fleas that they keep to during the warmer months. However, continuing with regular flea treatments is essential and ensuring that you also keep up with ‘environmental treatments’ is also important. A significant part of the flea’s life cycle is spent ‘off’ the host animal; this means that these pesky little critters can be found in carpets, animal bedding and other cosy upholstered locations. With the central heating turned up for winter, the warm environment that fleas so love remains constant and this in turn creates the perfect environment for them. Regular washing of dog and cat bedding, along with vacuuming, are all simple steps to reduce the number of flea eggs and larvae present in the home environment. If you allow dogs and cats onto sofas, or your own bed, then these should also be frequently cleaned to remove any traces of animal fleas.

Once Bitten, Twice the Problem

Apart from being thoroughly irritating, fleas can cause some serious health problems for animals and for humans. In the latter, skin irritation is the most common and this can lead to infections if the irritation is not treated; youngsters are particularly vulnerable to infection from bites as they tend to have less self-control when it comes to scratching bitten areas. In animals, skin irritation is also a problem and, again, infection caused by scratching bites and sores is common. In young animals (kittens or puppies in particular) blood loss in the case of severe infestation can cause anaemia; although this is less common it’s a difficult condition to manage and can have severe implications.

Who Doesn’t Love Bath-time?

Basic flea treatments will be familiar to pet owners, topical creams and lotions can be applied to keep fleas in check. These are mostly available over-the-counter in pet shops (or online) but can also be acquired from vets – for more serious problems there are prescription only versions. Shampoos are also available and can be a good way to treat some animals (depending on how popular bath-time is with the individual in question). Flea sprays are also easy to acquire and simple and safe to use in most cases. Given that winter is a time when fleas are said to die back, one simple way to keep them down, is to ensure that dogs and cats get out and about on frequent occasions. Cats who roam outside will be less susceptible in winter as they’ll be frequently exposed to lower temperatures, but keeping indoor bedding and favourite cat-napping spots clean is important. Dogs that have access to outdoor areas will also see a reduction in fleas, while regular walks in the brisk cold weather will also help! When it comes to winter treatment of fleas it’s best to assume that they won’t die back as much as established wisdom may suggest, and simply keep up with your regular flea treatment regime.

If you want to know more take a look at our Ultimate Pet Flea Fact File on our website

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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