All pet owners know it… that sudden and incessant itching by our furry friends that has us racing to the calendar to check if we’ve missed a flea treatment. At some point or other, most dogs will catch fleas. Just the thought of them being in your home can cause you to start itching all over! Here, we answer some of the most common questions and give our flea advice.
How does my pet catch fleas?
Contrary to popular belief, fleas very rarely jump from animal to animal. Your pet is much more likely to catch fleas from environments where other pets with fleas have been. This could be anywhere from a home to the local dog park to the street – fleas could be anywhere and are always looking for a host to live off.
Can fleas fly?
Fleas do not have wings. They generally crawl to get around but also have very powerful hind legs to jump long distances onto their hosts.
How long do fleas live for?
An adult flea lives for around 2 – 3 months and can live without a “host” for up to two weeks. Flea eggs are not sticky and so tend to fall off your pet into your home. The larvae can survive for up to a year in a dormant state and will hatch when conditions are right, ie a warm temperature or a host is nearby. This is why it is crucial to treat your home as well as your dog. If you only treat your pet, you will only kill the fleas currently living on him or her and they will keep getting reinfected by the hatching larvae in your carpets and soft furnishings.
Can fleas live on humans?
The short answer is, thankfully, no. We don’t have enough hair for fleas to live comfortably in. However, fleas will still bite humans, given the chance.
Where do fleas live on my pet?
Fleas like warm areas so will generally choose to live around your pet’s armpits, neck and rump. Check your pet’s fur regularly. It is unlikely that you will see an actual flea as they move very quickly and are adept at hiding in your pet’s fur, but you will see telltale black flea dirt. Popular spots on dogs is above the tail and on cats, between the shoulder blades.
What’s the best way to check my pet?
Searching their fur with your hands can be an effective way to check for flea dirt and very relaxing for your pet who thinks they’re being pampered! You can also buy very fine combs to brush through the fur and remove any flea dirt.
If your pet will let you, stand them up on their hind legs on top of some white, wet paper and give their fur a real good rub and scratch. Check the paper for any spots of flea dirt that have fallen off – the dirt will turn red on the wet paper.
How do I treat my home?
We all know the flea treatments for our pets but we can’t stress enough the importance of treating your home. Flea larvae will lie dormant in carpets, rugs, sofas, pet beds and under skirting boards for years, hatching and hopping on to your pet when you least expect it.
Anything you can fit in the washing machine, do! Pet beds, rugs toys and sofa covers should be washed on the highest temperature possible in order to kill flea larvae. As for the carpets, a really thorough vacuuming can remove as much as 50% of flea larvae. Remember to throw the bag straight out afterwards.
Finally, use an anti flea spray or a flea bomb to treat the rest of the house. Read the instructions closely and stay out of the home for the suggested time as the chemicals in bombs can be extremely harmful to humans and animals if you go home too soon!
Any other flea-related questions? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help out! And if reading this has made you as itchy as writing it did, you’ll be off for a good old scratch!