Many pets can suffer from fleas, and this is never enjoyable for either animals or humans. Often it means that the whole house will get infested as the annoying insects start to lay their eggs in the carpet. Not only are fleas annoying pests, but they can also pose a number of hazards. As such, it is important to make an effort to keep a house free from fleas and to combat any infestation.
The Problems With Fleas
There are a number of problems that can arise from having large numbers of fleas in your home and on your pet.
At best, fleas will lead to irritation in two senses of the word. Your pet will suffer from bites and regularly have to scratch. Most likely, you will also suffer from bites. This will lead to itchiness and skin irritation and will also be very annoying. Fleas will also jump on to you and on any object placed on the floor, which can also be annoying, though at least it makes it easier to see when your home is becoming infested.
In the worse cases, fleas can lead to health problems for you and your pet.
There are a number of health issues that can arise from the presence of fleas in your home. For example, your pet may be allergic to the saliva of the flea. This can lead to further, more long-lasting skin irritation. Often allergic reactions cause your pet to lick, scratch and bite at the affected area, which can create a risk of infection. This can result in a number of skin conditions, which will in turn make your pet want to lick and bite more and create a vicious circle.
There are a number of diseases that can be carried by fleas. Famously, certain types of flea can carry bubonic plague, but thankfully this is extremely rare in modern times. However, plenty of other (albeit less
serious) diseases are much more commonly spread by fleas. Examples include mange and dermatitis, both of which could affect either you or your pet.
Fleas might also transmit typhus.
Fleas can also spread parasites to your pet, especially worms. The larvae of the flea feed on the eggs of certain types of worm, particularly tapeworms.
The flea then carries the parasite and can be accidentally consumed by your pet during grooming. This can mean that the worm will establish itself in your pet's digestive system and turn into a full-blown worm infestation.
Eggs of the parasite will then be excreted in your pet's faeces and potentially eaten by further flea larvae, perpetuating the process. Humans, especially children, can also be infected with worms by fleas.
In rare and extreme cases, fleas can even lead to a form of anaemia. Very heavy infestations can cause your pet to suffer from a deficiency in red blood cells due to the feeding activities of the fleas. This results in the key symptoms of anaemia, such as paleness, lethargy, lack of appetite and collapse.
Dealing With Fleas
Minor infestations are generally simple to deal with. However, heavier infestations often require a two-pronged approach, dealing with fleas both on your pet's body and in the home.
Flea Treatments For Pets
There are various flea treatments available for pets. One of the most popular is the use of a spot treatment. These come in single dose-sized applicators and are placed on your pet's fur. As the treatment is toxic, it is important to place it in a spot on the back of the neck that your pet will not be able to reach while grooming. Fleas coming into contact with this spot will die, and often the treatment will also affect other fleas they come into contact with before succumbing. Regular application of this treatment, usually once every few months, is a great way to prevent re-infestation by fleas in the future.
Flea collars work in a similar way, but it is a bit harder to ensure that your pet is not harmed. Flea-killing shampoos are also a great, quick way to kill all the fleas on your pet's body. Simply bathe your pet as you usually would, but using the flea shampoo.
Treating Your Home
In more severe cases, it will be necessary to treat your home. Fleas tend to live in carpets as much as on your pet, hopping opportunistically on to any animal or person that happens to walk past. They also tend to lay a lot of eggs in a carpet, so even if treating your pet seems to have dealt with the problem, there is a possibility that fleas may re-emerge in your home a little later.
There are various treatments for killing fleas in carpets. Two common examples are powder and carpet shampoo. They are simply applied to the carpet, left for a certain amount of time, and then vacuumed up.