News & Advice

Avoid a flea infestation this spring

Sep 16, 2020 | Cats, Dogs, Pet Health

Paul van der Wel, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Huntly

Over the winter months, many pet owners may become complacent, with lapses in their pet’s flea control. In the North Island, the climate is too mild to kill off all fleas over winter so, although flea numbers are reduced, they are still there. Did you know that 95% of the problem (eggs, larvae and pupae) are living in your pet’s environment (your home, carpets, furniture and garden)? With our homes now being much warmer fleas have really become a year-round problem especially with indoor pets.

Noticeable signs your pet has fleas:

  • Itching and scratching. In particular under the neck, around the base of the tail
  • Flea Dirt. Do you notice your pet leaves dirt behind after sitting in one spot? It might not be dirt from the garden, try combing your pet and ‘catching’ some of it on a paper towel. Then wet with a small amount of water – if the ‘dirt’ bleeds or shows red – this is actually flea dirt, indicating your pet has fleas.

Whether your pet shows signs of itching or flea dirt, we recommend treating your pet now if you haven’t already.

A flea’s eggs can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to develop, hatching when environmental conditions are just right for them. If temperatures are cold and dry, the eggs will take longer. However, when temperatures are warm, and humidity levels are high, the eggs will hatch at a faster rate – so here in the Waikato, where a humid spring is expected, it is particularly important to treat our pets regularly. A few fleas in August and September will produce 100’s of eggs each, and with a short life cycle (eggs can hatch within two days in the right conditions) an epidemic of fleas can be rapidly created in the early summer. Breaking the flea cycle will keep flea populations under control which is better for us and the health of our pets.

Fleas cause health issues

As well as the obvious issue with them indiscriminately biting humans, we see plenty of our pet dogs and cats with Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). This form of dermatitis only takes a single flea bite for your pet’s skin to react. FAD can result in redness, sores, itchiness, and hair loss, requiring a vet visit. So, all the more reason to eliminate fleas, preventing your pet’s discomfort and expensive treatments once these reactions occur.

Over the last few years, some highly effective and safe flea treatments have become available, some of which can give up to six months of protection against fleas with a single treatment. Please ask our trained Anexa staff about which treatment is best for your pet. If the horse (or fleas in this case) has already bolted, we can help too; we have the right products to get the infestation under control again and keep it that way.

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