How to get rid of fleas
Fleas… what a pain in the backside! Want to help your pet ditch that itch? We’ve answered your most common flea-related questions, including what fleas look like, how to know if your dog or cat has fleas, and which flea bite treatments are available. So long, fleas!
First thing’s first – what are fleas?
Technically speaking, fleas are blood-sucking external parasites – but, put simply, they’re pesky little creatures that bury themselves away in your pet’s fur. Flea bites can cause extreme itching, allergic reactions and, in severe cases, anaemia in both cats and dogs.
How do cats and dogs get fleas?
Commonly, cats and dogs catch fleas from environments that are already infested, such as your house or garden, or from other animals. We frequently get asked “can fleas fly?” and “do fleas jump?”. Well, fleas actually leap; specifically onto passers-by when they sense warmth, carbon dioxide, and vibrations. Once fleas have landed on your pet, they feed on its blood and, within 24 hours, start to lay eggs – as many as 200 per day.
How do I know if my cat or dog has fleas?
Some tell-tale cat and dog flea symptoms include:
- Itching and scratching
- Bald patches
- Flea bites on you or your family members
- Little dark coloured specks in your dog’s fur or in their comb after grooming
How do I know if my house is infested with fleas?
As your pet is carrying flea eggs around, they fall off onto anything they touch – the carpet, sofa, bedding – and, after 2–3 weeks, the eggs hatch and the cycle begins again. Remember, you might not always be able to see fleas, as over 95% of their life cycle is spent in your house or garden – not on your pet. How to get rid of cat fleas in the house has never been easier – try household sprays, flea bombs, and foggers. Just make sure to keep your pet out of the room until it has been well ventilated post-treatment.
What do fleas look like? And how do I check if my cat or dog has fleas?
Checking your pet for fleas is a must. Apart from unsettling your furry friend (and sometimes us – yes, fleas can bite humans too), fleas can transmit diseases such as Tapeworm and other blood-borne diseases.
It’s fairly straightforward to check your pets for fleas. Get your hands on a specially designed flea comb and run it through your pet's coat – this’ll brush out any fleas or flea eggs hiding within their fur. If you can't see any fleas, the next step is to check your pet for flea droppings. Rub a white piece of paper over their coat, remove any loose hairs, and brush any residue onto some damp cotton wool. If any dark colour specks turn red on the cotton wool, these are flea droppings that contain blood from your pet – and you should treat your pet for fleas as soon as possible.
How do I get rid of fleas?
The best approach to getting rid of fleas is a combined one. This involves treating all the cats and dogs in your home, whether you think they all have fleas or not. Flea bite treatments for cats and dogs can be topical – referred to as spot-ons – or take the form of tablets, liquids, and injections. If you’re not sure where to start, Frontline, Frontline Plus, Beaphar, and Virbac will help. Alternatively, consult your vet about which product is right for your pet.
Our articles are not a replacement for face-to-face vet advice. It’s important to consult with your vet on a regular basis to raise any pet concerns that you may have.