Ouch! Fleas on Dogs and Cats

Summer is the time for visits to the beach, ice cream, pool parties and family holidays.  However, for our pets, it can also mean being harassed by creepy crawlies such as fleas.  Fleas are external parasites that spend the adult part of their life cycles living and feeding off dog and cat skin.  They can cause discomfort and itchiness, spread disease and in some individuals, cause intense allergic reactions.
Fleas start their life out in an egg, which can take two days to two weeks to hatch.  Once hatched, the larvae become pupae, which are the second and third stages of the life cycle.  Adults emerge from the cocoon of the pupa.  The first three stages of the life cycle occur in the environment; carpet, bedding and soil are very popular.  Once hatched, the adult lives on the pet and causes itchiness and general misery!
Why is the weather important?  Well, fleas thrive and progress faster in the life cycle in warm, moist conditions.  So while fleas may be present in the environment during the colder months, they tend to be much more active in warmer months.  So while regular flea control is most important in summer, continuing this throughout the year should lead to a lower flea burden when the hotter weather comes around.
There are several effective products for prevention of flea infestations in pets.  Many of these are to be administered monthly and can be in the form of spot treatments, tablets and sprays.  The most effective are those that are recommended by your vet.  Many flea collars and supermarket products are fairly ineffective, and it is best to seek veterinary advice on individual products.  Other actions that can be taken include frequent vacuuming indoors, prevention of access to moist, warm places such as under the house, and application of sprays to control fleas in the carpets and bedding.  When a team effort is undertaken with the family, vet and your pet, effective control of fleas and an itch-free pet can be achieved. Good luck!

Do you have the frequent and frustrating problem of swarms of fleas infesting your pets, come summer? What have you done in the past to get rid of this annoyance? Please enlighten us with your tips in the comments below.

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