The Humble Flea….

June 6, 2013

What a wonderful start to the Great British summer! Long dog walks in the countryside, and long hours of basking in the garden shade for our cats: happy times.

However, we must not forget that the rise in ambient temperature is also conducive to a rapidly expanding flea population. As the temperature rises, the life cycle of the flea accelerates, and under optimal conditions, one flea laying 200 eggs, can progress to 200 adult fleas within 7-10 days.

Of course, 10 days later, 200 fleas becomes 40,000 fleas which multiply to become 8 million fleas in a further 10 days!

No wonder then, that a recent national survey of 1,000 UK pet owners found that more than a half said they or a family member had been bitten by a flea, and one in eight had been confronted by a guest after being bitten by a flea in the home. Over 30% of respondents had found fleas on clothing, furniture, and even their own body.

An interesting aspect of the flea life cycle is than only the adults live on the pet (or human) host. The eggs are laid into the pet’s haircoat, and subsequently drop off into the household and carpet everywhere the pet spends time, especially when scratching. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then pupate, to finally emerge as adults which will look to feed on you or your pet!

Of all the lifestages, less than 5% (the adult fleas) live on the host: 95% are in the environment. Surprising then that fewer than 50% of owners treat the household as well as their pets. This is one of the main reasons that an established flea problem appears to fail to respond to treatment: as fast as the adults are killed on the pet’s coat, newly emerging adult fleas take over! Clearly then, it is important to treat the flea stages in the environment of your pet as well as its environment.

Vets are uniquely placed to prescribe the strongest, most effective prescription-strength flea treatments available, and are very happy to discuss their appropriate use, along with any other queries you may have on this most interesting, but rather unpleasant parasite.


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