Pets & Pests; Does Your Lockdown Companion have Fleas?
During lockdown, 3.2 million UK households introduced a pet into their homes. For many people, pets helped improve mental health during such a worrying time and helped ease the loneliness of social isolation. One downside of owning pets, however, is the increased risk of a flea infestation in your home.
Fleas are bloodsucking parasitic insects that are notoriously problematic to eradicate. Due to this, Avon Pest Control recommends contacting a professional pest control agency as soon as you are alerted to the presence of fleas in your home. In the UK we encounter 3 types of flea, the most common of which is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). Less frequently you may come across the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis), and rarely the human flea (Pulex irritans). Contrary to its name, the cat flea does not exclusively effect cats and will feed on any available mammals and birds; when a dog contracts fleas it is most often this variety.
Fleas have wingless flattened bodies that are around 1-4mm in length, and black/dark brown in colour.
How do I Know if My Pet has Fleas?
As a new pet owner, it can be tricky to identify if your pet has fleas. Here are some tell-tale signs that may indicate a flea infestation.
- Your pet is scratching more than usual
- Your pet has areas where their fur in thinned, missing or sore
- Skin redness and irritation
- Small dark insects moving in the fur, with above appearance
- Small dark specks in the fur, that turn reddish brown when placed on wet tissue
- Increased insect bites on your own body
What Happens if My Pet is Bitten by Fleas?
Flea bites can be incredibly irritating and uncomfortable for your pet. They may also suffer from anaemia after prolonged episodes of blood loss, and/or may have an allergic reaction if they are hypersensitive to flea saliva. Additionally, if your pet ingests a flea infected by tapeworm, it may become a host so ensure your pet is treated for both fleas and worms.
Are Fleas Harmful to Humans as Well as Pets?
Fleas are more than happy to obtain their blood meal from humans. If left untreated, an infection can occur after prolonged itching. If you are allergic to fleas, you may experience anaphylaxis, which may present as chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, wheezing, a rash, hives, or intense itching.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call 999 or attend your local hospital immediately, as anaphylaxis can be life threatening.
How do I get Rid of Fleas?
It is estimated that 95% of flea eggs, larvae and pupae do not live on your pet, but in the home environment. Therefore, it is essential to treat both your pet, and your environment. DIY treatments are variable in effectiveness and longevity of success. Professional pest control services have access to professional grade insecticides and tools which are unavailable to the public and far increase the chances of treatment efficiency.