Help! I have Fleas in my House!
It’s a common misconception that fleas aren’t a problem in winter, but unfortunately, that’s not true.
They breed very well indeed, in warm environments, such as a nice centrally heated house! So we see them all year around.
Firstly, don’t panic. Yes it’s horrible that you’ve found fleas, but rest assured, most pet owners have had to deal with a flea problem at some point!
Fleas are tiny, often the size of a pin head, but can jump up to a metre, and are so fast, you often don’t see them even when they are in your house or on your pet!
As we very rarely see fleas - by the time you do see one, there’s a high chance that you have a very large flea infestation in your house.
You can check your pet's coat for any black bits of dirt - collect it and put it onto a piece of wet tissue or cotton wool, gently press the dirt and if it turns a red-brown colour, then it is flea dirt!
Why are fleas so bad?
Fleas carry tapeworms, which are passed into your pet, and to you
They bite your pets: if you’ve had a midge or mosquito bite, then you’ll know how itchy it can be, and sometimes painful too. This is very unfair and stressful for pets
Fleas can bite you, and your children
Some dogs and cats have an allergy to flea saliva; meaning that a flea bite can cause intense itching, which results in open, sore and infected areas of skin
Anyone visiting your house may get bitten, and the fleas may then infest the homes of your friends too
How does a flea infestation start?
A flea can hop onto your dog or cat from other infested pets that they meet in the park, or at other peoples' houses. You may bring fleas or flea eggs home with you on your clothing, if you visited an infested building.
Once in your home, the flea will bite your pet (or you) and begin to reproduce by laying eggs.
These eggs can only be seen under a microscope, so you won’t know they are there!
The other problem with eggs, is that they are sticky; they stick to fabric and floor boards, they like gaps around skirting boards and the deep pile of carpets and rugs, including your car carpets!
All of these thousands of eggs will develop into larvae, and then into adult fleas, and the lovely warm environment of a house makes it perfect for them. All of the newly hatched fleas will then hop on and bite your pet, then each one will lay thousands of eggs! Urgh!
Pet shop available products are outdated, and so sadly, frequently ineffective. Some can be toxic if not used correctly. Products from your vet WILL kill the fleas.
Please always talk to your vet.
Pet shop or grooming staff are not trained vets or nurses
Plan of Action
Treat ALL of your pets:
If one isn't treated, they will keep the flea infestation going
Vacuum your house! A lot!
Put the central heating temp up for a couple hours - this wakes the flea eggs up
Then run the vacuum around - everywhere - don’t leave any rooms closed off, as there could be some fleas in there!
Tip the contents of the vacuum cleaner into an outside bin
Do extra vacuuming in the areas of your house where your pet likes to lie down
Don’t forget to vacuum areas like airing cupboards or wardrobes where pets often like to hide out! Wash any fabrics in these areas too
Wash, or throw away and replace, any fabric pet toys too.
Remember to wash your family bedding too, pets often sleep on beds (or have a cheeky sleep there even if they aren’t usually allowed!)
You should also vacuum sofa cushions and mattresses too.
Repeat the central heating/vacuuming/steam cleaning/washing, every week for at least 3 weeks
If you have a very bad infestation, your vet may advise a house spray
This must be used with care if you have other pets at home (including those in cages and tanks) or if anyone in the house suffers with breathing difficulties or asthma
You should read and follow the house spray instructions carefully before use
If you follow this advice, then you should get on top of the problem
If you are still finding fleas, then come and talk to us, there may be another source of fleas that we need to address
live in your car too!
How to prevent another infestation starting again
Use a vet-prescribed flea prevention on all your pets
Use it at the correct interval
If it says ‘apply/give every 4 weeks’ then you must! If you wait 5 or 6 weeks, this gives several days when your pet can bring live fleas back into your house and establish an infestation!
Follow vet guidelines on when it’s ok to bath your pet or let them go swimming
How do flea products prevent a flea infestation?
Different products work in slightly different ways, but in general:
The flea bites your dog or cat
The flea treatment on or in the skin, will stop the flea from laying eggs
The flea treatment will then kill the flea, thereby stopping a flea infestation before it has chance to start
If your pet has gone over the 4 weeks interval for the next dose, then the flea is able to bite your pet and survive, and will start laying eggs.