Some pet owners might have more guests than they’d bargained for this Christmas as thousands of flea eggs hatch in our homes, warns leading veterinary charity, PDSA.
The charity for pets in need of vets is warning owners that they, and their four-legged friends, could be set for a winter of stressful scratching thanks to their unwanted visitors.
PDSA statistics* show that there is a 20 per cent drop in the sale of flea treatments during the winter months. Vets believe this is because many owners simply do not realise that fleas are just as rampant in the winter as the summer months.
“It might be cold outside,” says PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley, “but our warm houses provide the perfect breeding ground for fleas. People turn up the central heating to keep their homes warm, but this means that fleas are able to thrive”
“Pet owners should take effective steps to rid their pets, and their homes, of these parasites by carrying out a regular flea treatment programme,” added Sean.
Fleas can lay thousands of eggs all around our homes – wherever your pet goes the fleas go too! PDSA estimates that some pet owning households could contain around 20,000 flea eggs at any one time, many of which will develop into adult fleas within a matter of weeks – feeding off both owner and pet.
Sean said: “A population of just one hundred fleas can increase to over ten thousand fleas within the space of just six months because of the rapid rate at which they reproduce.
Flea eggs fall off your pet wherever it goes, in particular where they sleep. So if your pet snoozes with you at night, your bed could be infested with hundreds of flea eggs.
With around 14 million cats and dogs in the UK today, most at some point in their lives will be affected by fleas.
“It is vital that owners regularly use appropriate flea treatments in the correct manner” adds Sean. “Using a dog flea treatment on a cat can result in fatal poisoning, as can exceeding the recommended dosage, so always consult your vet for advice on the best flea treatment to use. PDSA vets regularly see pets that have been treated incorrectly with flea treatments, some of whom, sadly, do not survive.”
“Remember too that treating your pet is only part of the solution as you will have to treat your home and any other pets within your household too. Everything the dog or cat comes into contact with should be treated with a product recommended by your vet, otherwise it is inevitable that the fleas will come back.”
Fleas can cause very serious health problems. They are one of the most common causes of distressing skin problems in dogs and cats and in severe cases smaller animals, particularly kittens, can die from anaemia due to blood loss from the feeding fleas.
To encourage owners to treat their pets over the winter period, PDSA, in conjunction with Pfizer Animal Health, is offering its eligible clients a special ‘buy one get one flea’ promotion. For the next six months**, with every three flea treatments they purchase at their local PDSA PetAid hospital, clients will get a fourth treatment absolutely free***! For more information clients should contact their local PDSA PetAid hospitals or call freephone 0800 917 2509.
Did you know?
· Fleas thrive in a warm environment
· Fleas can jump 20cm high, over a metre long and will jump around 10,000 times when looking for a dog or cat host.
· Fleas can feed for up to three hours from one site, and can drink up to 140% of their own body weight in blood.
· Eggs, larvae and pupae can also be carried around the house on the soles of our shoes.
* In 2007, 78,795 flea products were sold in PDSA PetAid hospitals during summer months, compared to 64,213 in the winter.