Why protect against fleas

Fleas are a big problem...

The Big Flea Project found that 1 in 4 cats and 1 in 7 dogs1 selected at random, visiting their vets, were found to be carrying fleas.

Wider implications

Wider implications

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.

The Big Flea Project1 results showed that 11.3% of fleas were carrying this disease that can affect both dogs and humans if exposed to infected fleas or flea dirt.

Cat Scratch Disease can cause swollen lymph nodes and fever in people and can be particularly dangerous for people with lowered immune systems.

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

Finding the right solution

Finding the right solution

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), and collars are also available that last up to 6-8 months.

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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. Continuing with treatment all year round will help to prevent re-infestation.2

How to prevent this issue

How to prevent this issue

Prevention can be an excellent way to manage the parasite risk to your pet so the best way to ensure your pet doesn't have any fleas or ticks is to speak to your vet about products to protect them.

Prevention approach

Treatments available on prescription from your vet include spot-on and chews that give 28 days’ protection; chews that give 35 days’ protection; and spot-on and chews that give 12 weeks’ protection.

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 up to 6-8 months.

Speak to your vet, as they will be able to advise you on the different options available and recommend the best one for your pet based on their specific lifestyle.

Why prevention helps

Fleas and ticks can easily infest to your pet. By the time most owners notice fleas they have already infested their home and ticks have been feeding for a week or more.

These parasites can also carry diseases that can be detrimental to your pet’s health.

By consulting with your vet and getting vet recommended parasite protection you will be giving your pet the best possible protection against fleas and ticks.

Other signs to look out for

Animals react differently when bitten by fleas or ticks.

The following are some signs to look-out for, but keep in mind that your pet might not necessarily display these, so the best way to ensure your pet doesn't have any fleas or ticks is to speak to your vet about products to protect them.

- Mild to severe skin irritation

- Intense scratching and biting of skin

- Hair loss

- Skin infections

Read about Parasites

If you want to find a solution to your pet's parasite issues click the Read more button.

 

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Diseases related to fleas

 

Flea allergy dermatitis

Learn more about Flea allergy dermatitis

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Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)


• The most common skin disease of dogs

• Major cause of dermatitis in cats

• Animals react negatively to flea saliva injected when fleas feed

• Affected animals scratch, lick, rub, chew and even nibble at the skin

• Bald patches, redness and self-trauma are often evident

• Severe cases can affect the whole body

Tapeworm

 

Learn more about Tapeworm

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Tapeworm


There are many different species of tapeworm.  The adults live in the intestine of the final host (e.g. dog, cat) and the immature stage lives in another species (e.g. fleas, rabbits or mice).

Dipylidium caninum (flea tapeworm): The immature stage lives in fleas and lice.  Pets are infected by ingesting the infected flea.  Although the tapeworm does not cause clinical disease in dogs and cats, the segments of these worms can be passed in the pets’ faeces and they look alarming especially as they move! If effective flea control is maintained throughout the year, the risk of your pets being infected with this tapeworm is greatly reduced.

 

Bartonellosis

 

Learn more about Bartonellosis

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Bartonellosis


• In cats and dogs, Bartonellosis can cause mild to severe illness, occasionally endocarditis – inflammation of the heart’s inner lining

• In people, it can cause relapsing fever, meningitis, encephalitis, endocarditis and cat scratch disease

• Transmitted among cats by fleas – so flea control is vital to reduce risk of infection for cats, dogs and people


Bartonella treatment

• Clearance is difficult due to relapsing presence of bacteria in the blood

• Flea protection to prevent transmission is crucial to avoiding Bartonella

 

The effects of temperature on fleas

Fleas cannot withstand dramatic temperature changes – but they don’t have to when they’re living in our homes.

 

• Pet bedding and dens provide protection for flea larvae from low humidity and extreme fluctuation in temperature

• Larvae temperature needs: 13-35°C and humidity >50%

• Larvae are photophobic (extreme sensitivity to light) and geotactic (moving in response to the force of gravity): they move to the base of carpets where they’re protected

• Adult fleas can survive for a number of days without feeding

• Flea pupae can survive in their cocoon for up to 12 months if temperatures are low

So, fleas will survive if it’s cold outside!

Current temperature in your region
15°

Fleas are very active

The current temperature in your region is the optimal temperature at which flea pupae hatch and feed, increasing the chances of an infestation in households and the rate at which adult fleas will feed.

Why protect against ticks?

In the UK, ticks can carry various diseases including the bacteria that causes Lyme disease...

Big Flea & Tick Projects

MSD Animal Health has undertaken research into the most common...

Why do we vaccinate pets?

Vaccination plays a pivotal role in keeping your pets healthy and free from infectious disease.

References

1 Abdullah et al. Parasites & Vectors (2019) 12:71
2 Dryden et al. Parasites & Vectors (2015) 8:364
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