Our pets can bring many great things into our lives: fun, loyalty, affection, companionship and much more. Unfortunately, one other thing they can bring in with them is the less pleasant companion of fleas. No matter how well you care for your pet and how clean you keep it, a chance encounter with another infested animal can lead to your own animal becoming host to some very unwelcome visitors.
Once established on your pet, then the fleas will quickly begin the process of reproducing, and laying eggs that might not necessarily stay within the fur of your pet. In today’s warm houses, flea eggs can quite happily develop and hatch within the fibres of our carpets and upholstery, and so it’s easy to see how a simple infestation of your pet can lead to extremely undesirable consequences for the cleanliness of your home.
There’s no need to worry though about animal fleas jumping onto humans and infesting them, as the species involved are quite different. While, say, a cat flea may jump onto a human, attracted by the heat, it will soon leave when it realises that it hasn’t met with its favored feline host.
So how can you tell if your pet has fleas? Signs of itching such as excessive scratching and nibbling are an obvious indicator, and if you encounter these then it’s probably time to investigate further. Special flea combs are available which you can use to check the fur of your pet for the fleas themselves, as well as the telltale waste deposits that they leave behind.
Any fleas that the comb uncover need to be dealt with decisively. Unfortunately for squeamish pet owners, fleas need to be dispatched quickly or they’ll jump to their escape, only to relocate themselves to your pet once again. Easy methods include squeezing in a tissue or throwing onto an open fire – fleas are hardy creatures, so don’t be tentative.
Once you’ve established that you have an infestation problem, you need to tackle the situation from all directions. Not only should you treat your pets with the sprays or powders available from your veterinary surgeon, you need to treat your carpets and upholstery to kill any eggs that have been deposited there. Sprays for this purpose are readily available, and safe to use, although it’s always wise to keep your pets and children out of rooms that are being treated in this way.
Even if you’ve never had cause to treat a flea infestation, prevention is better than cure. For cats, flea collars are widely available which will discourage flea infestation, although they won’t prevent it completely if your pet regularly comes into contact with a heavily infested neighbor or stray. Drops, sprays, and even pills are also readily obtained either from your vet or pet store, and most products are generally effective. Even so, some fleas can get past all preventative measures, so you still need to keep an eye open and take action if necessary.
Finally, if reading this article has left you scratching, then don’t worry. You probably haven’t got a flea problem – it’s usually just a natural reaction to reading about them!