Parasites

Find a solution to your pet parasite issues

Click on a question to find out the answer.

 

Fleas

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

You may not know your pet has fleas as not only are they fast movers but most of their lifecycle is spent off the pet. Early signs may include your pet scratching or licking more than usual, or you may see sore skin, black flecks or actual fleas on your pet.

You may also notice people in your house being bitten, especially round their ankles. Symptoms can vary and an examination by your vet may be required to confirm if your pet has fleas.

Fleas on your pet are only 5% of the problem, the rest will be in the home environment – speak to your vet if you suspect your pet has fleas to discuss the best way to control the infestation.

How do I get rid of fleas on my pet?

Fleas can survive in our homes whatever the temperature outside, so effective, year-round flea protection is required. At least 12 weeks’ continuous protection is needed to break the flea life cycle1.

Treatments available on prescription from your vet include spot-ons, chews and sprays.

Prescription products last from 28 days to 12 weeks, and spot-ons can work topically (from the outside) or systemically (from the inside).

If you have a flea infestation, then to break the flea life cycle you’ll need a minimum of three doses, given on time, of the 28-day and 35-day products; or one dose of the 12-week product. Collars are also available that last from 6 months up to 8 months. Continuing all year round will help to prevent re-infestation.


1 Dryden et al. Parasites & Vectors (2015) 8:364

How do I get rid of fleas in my home?

The adult flea is the only part of the life cycle that lives on your pet – 95% of the problem is in the environment, which can be your home. A household flea infestation can be very hard to get rid of. Firstly, an effective flea product for all your pets in the household is required for at least 12 weeks to break the flea life cycle1.

If there’s an infestation in the home, treatment of the house may be required and your veterinary practice can help advise on this.

Other activities can help control the household infestation including vacuuming all the rooms your pet has access to as well as washing all soft furnishings your pet sleeps on at a high temperature (40 degrees or above).


1 Dryden et al. Parasites & Vectors (2015) 8:364

What do I do if a flea bites me or a member of my family?

Flea bites are small round spots on the skin and they also tend to be itchy. Because fleas often emerge from the pupae hiding in your carpet or floorboards, flea bites will usually appear in clusters on your ankles or lower legs.

If you suspect a flea bite that means there’s a household flea infestation (see above). If you have any concerns about flea bites, guidance should be sought from your GP.

Ticks

How do I know if my pet has a tick?

Ticks can be very small and difficult to find on pets. Start by examining your pet: check the skin on the head first (around the muzzle, behind the ears and on the neck), then work your way down the forelegs and the rest of the body – searching for any lumps on the surface of the skin. If you find a lump, part the hair and look at it more closely to ensure it’s a tick.

Unfed ticks can be as small as 2 mm, and you may miss them on your pet – so speak to your vet about using an effective flea and tick product including spot ons, chews, sprays and collars for all year round protection.

I tried to remove a tick and the mouthparts stayed in the skin – what do I do?

If you’ve tried to remove a tick but think you may not have managed to remove all the mouthparts effectively then speak to your veterinary practice – further treatment may be required.

How do I remove a tick from a person?

The ideal device for tick removal is a specially designed hook with a narrow slot, which needs to be slid with care under the tick at skin level so as to grip the tick. You can get these hooks from your vet or pet store.

Secure the hook in place around the mouthparts of the tick, ensuring that it is not entangled in the hair. The hook is then rotated around its axis several times until the attachment is freed.

The loose tick will then be easily detached and removed without putting either the tick or skin under tension. Then visit your vet about using a suitable tick prevention treatment for your pets.

What do I do with a tick once it’s been removed?

Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by wrapping it in a tissue and placing it in an outdoor dustbin (find out more at www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html).

How do I stop my pet getting ticks?
parasite hexagon

The best way to protect your pet from ticks is to speak to your vet about a suitable product that will keep them protected.

There are many products available and your vet can recommend one that will work best for you and your pet based on lifestyle and parasite risk.

Why protect against fleas?

Fleas can cause severe irritation leading to infection of the skin (flea allergy dermatitis). They may also carry Bartonella - this is a bacteria that causes the disease Bartonellosis, also known as Cat Scratch Disease

As well as diseases, fleas can carry the flea tapeworm which can cause harm to our pets and has been known to infect humans.

Why protect against ticks?

In the UK, ticks can carry various diseases including the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, an infection that affects both dogs and humans: symptoms can include a ‘bull’s-eye rash’ in people.

Map of tick risk

Map of tick risk

 

This interactive tick map, created from The Big Tick Project results, helps to show risk in your local area.

Big Flea and Tick Projects

Big Flea and Tick Projects

 

Because fleas and ticks can potentially cause harm to our pets and families we wanted to find out more about the risks they pose.

We teamed up with scientists at University of Bristol and vet practices across Great Britain to investigate the prevalence of ticks and fleas on cats and dogs, and to also find out what diseases these common parasites were carrying.

Find out more about the results of these projects here.