Some pet owners will already have had the unfortunate luck to discover that fleas are a problem throughout all year round, but some may not. Micro-climates in homes, gardens and parks allow them to survive during the coldest winters; however fleas are a bigger issue in summer as warmth and humidity can speed up their life cycle. An abundance of wildlife also contributes to the flea population your pets are exposed to outdoors. These factors increase the risk of developing a flea infestation within your home during warmer months.
It’s important to know the difference between ‘hitch-hiker’ fleas and a home infestation. The adult fleas seen on pets come directly from the environment – such as an infested home, garden or park. They hatch from cocoons hidden in the environment and jump straight onto your pet. If these cocoons are from a source outside the home, then the fleas seen on your pet are known as ‘hitch-hikers’. Provided you are treating all cats and dogs in your home throughout the year with a product like FRONTLINE® Spot On, hitch-hikers will be killed before they lay the eggs that would contaminate your home. However, if the fleas are coming from cocoons hidden within your home, then you have a home infestation and this needs further treatment.
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Cats are more likely to pick up fleas and bring them into the home than dogs, although you are less likely to see the fleas on your cat. This is because cats are more likely to explore areas that other feral cats or wild animals have been and so are exposed to more outdoor flea infestations. Because cats groom very well, they will groom the fleas out before you have a chance to see them but not before the fleas have laid eggs that are shed into your home and will result in a home infestation.
There is nothing that kills flea pupae in their cocoons. This is why even after treating the home, you will continue to see fleas hatching out and jumping onto your pets. In order to make sure all these cocoons that are hatching do not result in further infestation, all the pets in the home must be treated with a flea control product every month for at least 3 months. If you have more than 2 pets, this could take even longer.
There is no product that stops fleas from jumping on to a treated animal. This is why you may see fleas on a pet after applying a flea product. The product will kill the adult fleas once they have jumped on but this can take up to 24 hours. [/box]
Because the flea life cycle is sped up during summer, if you’re not treating all pets regularly, hitch-hikers from external infestations will survive on pets and start laying hundreds of eggs. These eggs are not sticky and fall out of the fur wherever your pet wanders. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae that crawl away from light settling deep into carpets, between floorboards and underneath furniture. Larvae then spin cocoons and begin transforming into adult fleas. Cocoons hatch when stimulated by vibration and fleas jump directly onto the new host from the environment.
Home infestations can occur regardless of how clean your home is – the only way to prevent a home infestation is to treat all pets regularly throughout the year.
Have you ever wondered what do dog fleas look like?
Breaks in protection (even during winter, a time pet owners may have thought flea problems didn’t occur) allow hitch-hikers to survive on pets and contaminate your home with eggs. During winter the life cycle is slower and cocoons in the home are not hatching frequently – you won’t realise an infestation is developing. By the time summer comes around, the flea population hidden in your home will be extensive and your pets will consistently be covered in fleas. You may even find that you’re being bitten around the ankles.
[note color=”#B8E9FC”]Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to flea treatment. For more information on how to protect your pet from fleas throughout the year and to sign up receive free email or SMS flea treatment reminders, please visit www.hugyourpet.co.uk. Plus, for your chance to win a personalised Emma Bridgewater pet bowl simply upload a picture of your cat or dog into our monthly competition at www.hugyourpet.co.uk