How to prevent pets from having fleas
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One in four cats in the UK has fleas, compared to one in seven dogs. There are different species of fleas – such as dog fleas, cat fleas, rabbit fleas and human fleas – and they are parasites that feed off their hosts. These jumping creatures suck blood, lay eggs and are very difficult to expel from the home, so it’s easier to prevent them from coming in in the first place. Think your cat has got fleas? Here’s what to do.
Fleas are not only uncomfortable and itchy for cats, but they can also be lethal.
Cats and other pets can be hypersensitive to flea saliva and have an allergic reaction to flea bites.
Young or frail animals with fleas can become very weak when fleas feed on their blood and they can die as a result of blood loss.
Even if your pet is a healthy weight and strong, flea larvae can become infected with tapeworm eggs and if your pet eats an infected flea it can become a host to the flea and cause worms too.
Fleas are known for being disease-ridden and they can pass harmful diseases such as myxomatosis.
7 signs your cat has fleas
According to the RSPCA site, there are seven clear signs that your cat might have fleas.
If the answer is yes to any of the following, it could mean your cat has fleas:
- Is your pet scratching?
- Areas of hair loss, bald or sore patches?
- Spots or scans?
- Redness and irritation?
- Thickened skin in areas (e.g. around-ear edges)?
- Can you see tiny dark specks in its fur, or small browny-black insects scurrying about?
- Do you have any unaccounted for insect bites yourself?
Don’t let it get to the stage where your cat is suffering and your home is covered in fleas.
The RSPCA recommends grooming your cat with a fine-tooth comb held over a white surface to look for fleas or droppings.
Add a few drops of water to the droppings on a white surface and if the droppings turn reddish-brown it’s very likely your cat has fleas.
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How to get rid of fleas on cats
If your cat has fleas, you need to use a flea treatment recommended by your vet.
This can easily be done at home following the instructions and it must be done as soon as you can after you’ve spotted fleas on your pet.
The instructions will tell you exactly how to do it, but most of the time it’s a two-person job.
You’ll normally need to part your cat’s fur and apply the treatment directly onto the skin and two different points of their body.
The cat will then need to stay dry for 24 hours, so make sure you keep them inside if it’s a rainy day.
If your cat or dog has fleas, your home could be riddled with fleas.
Fleas can survive without a host for many months, so you’ll need to treat your home as well as the pets.
The RSPCA site instructs: “Clean bedding regularly and vacuum furniture, floors and skirting boards to help destroy fleas at each stage of their lifecycle
“Throw away the dust bag from your vacuum after each use.”
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