Facts about fleas


What are fleas?

Fleas are tiny reddish-brown insects which are visible to the naked eye. They commonly infect many wild and domestic animals. Fleas are a problem all year round but especially during the warmer months.

Why do fleas cause a problem?

The presence of fleas on your pet’s skin can cause signs from mild irritation, itching and scratching through to significant irritation, hair loss and self-trauma. In extreme cases animals can become anaemic from large numbers of fleas feeding on their blood.

Some animals are allergic to the saliva from flea bites and just one flea can be enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Fleas can also spread some blood-borne diseases and parasites, such as tapeworm.

How does my pet get fleas?

Fleas aren’t only passed on from other pets. The life cycle of a flea is quite complicated and the fleas you see on your pet are only around 5% of the infestation – the other 95% are in your house!

Some stages of the life cycle can lie dormant in the environment for up to a year, which is why new fleas continue to show up after treatment or even appear when moving house. Central heating, vibrations from walking and hoovering and/or the presence of a pet ‘wake up’ the dormant pupae. Once hatched, the new young adult fleas seek out your pet for a blood meal, completing the life cycle.

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

Part the coat so you can see the skin - try looking around your pet’s armpits, belly and groin where the coat is thinner - and you may happen to see a scuttling flea. They are fast and quickly jump away, so more likely you will find tiny black specks of ‘flea dirt’ instead which is actually flea faeces.

Preventing and treating fleas

Due to the lengthy and complex life cycle of the flea, prevention is much easier than cure. Your vet or veterinary nurse will be happy to discuss the most suitable method of prevention for your pet – these are usually topical or oral treatments given monthly. Contact us for advice.

Membership of our Healthy Pet Club includes all preventative flea and worm treatments to help keep your pet healthy and flea-free.

If an infestation starts, all in-contact animals will need to be treated. This may need to continue for a number of months as new fleas constantly hatch from the environment. Use of a long-acting household spray, in conjunction with regular vacuuming and washing of pet bedding, can hasten the process of breaking the cycle.

Related Advice Guides