As we settle into the colder months and darker days, you might forget the importance of tackling fleas and using treatments to prevent your pet from picking up those pesky parasites. The reality is that fleas are still an issue, even in the winter. Here we’ll run through why you should be vigilant and continue with treatment.
While it’s true that fleas and ticks don’t thrive in lower temperatures, thinking they’re not a threat during the winter is a common misconception. In a natural setting, a dog or cat would be less likely to contract a flea infestation in winter as the cold weather causes the fleas to lay dormant, but in the UK most pets are kept indoors in an artificial environment where the use of central heating allows the fleas to breed all year round.
Artificial environments and the use of central heating
Contrary to popular belief, fleas do survive during the winter months, especially indoors. Our warm houses provide the perfect breeding ground for fleas as they thrive in a warm and humid environment. People turn up the central heating to keep their homes warm, but this means that fleas are attracted to the home. Pet owners should take effective steps to rid their pets, and their homes, of these parasites and minimise the risk of infestation by carrying out continuous year-round treatment.
Treating pets in winter
Treating your pet is only part of the solution as you will have to treat your home and any other pets within your household too. Everything the dog or cat comes into contact with should be treated with a product recommended by your vet, otherwise it is inevitable that the fleas will come back.
Direct Pet treatment
The most effective way to control flea infestations is to treat the pet directly all year round. Prescription and non-prescription direct treatments in the form of topical applications, flea shampoo's, tablets and sprays are all products that can be obtained to effectively treat fleas on your pet. Combing the pet with a flea removal comb will help to remove adults and destroy eggs.
Spot-on Flea Treatments
Spot-on flea products are applied to the pet. The liquid is applied to the scruff of the neck, directly on the skin with the fur parted. Most spot-on products contain adulticides designed to eliminate adult fleas from the pet within 24 hours of application.
Oral Flea Treatments
There is an increasing number of oral flea treatments for dogs and cats that kill the adult fleas on your pet.
Integrated Flea Control
This solution uses a combination of 2 different types of insecticide which target the different stages of the flea life cycle: an adulticide to kill the adult fleas you can see on the pet, and an insect growth regulator to deal with the eggs they lay around your house.
Injectable Flea Control
An injectable flea control product is available for cats. It contains an insect growth regulator which prevents fleas from being able to lay viable eggs around your home for a full six months. This product must be administered by a veterinary surgeon.
If you treat the pets correctly, you are less likely to need to spray the house because all fleas will jump on your cat or dog as part of their life cycle. So if you have treated the cat or dog, the fleas will die out when they come into contact with the animal.
Hoovering the carpets and furniture will pick up eggs, this is especially important if your pets are allowed to sleep or climb on sofa, bed, etc. Cleaning the area where the pet’s favourite sleeping place is will remove significant numbers of eggs and larvae, if you use a basket any bedding should be washed in the washing machine (eggs, larvae and adults will not survive this).
It is possible especially when the infestation is light, for do it yourself pest control to be effective. Many products can be used to spray your house against fleas. Products have been designed to allow a low concentration of insecticide to be used by untrained homeowners in their own homes. In light infestation type situations these can be quite effective. Most of these products have a low concentration of insecticide and in some cases a growth regulator. As with all products of this type, you must adhere to the direction as to its use, especially in relation to application rates.
Please feel free to contact one of our Animal Health Advisors who are on hand to advise a suitable treatment program for your pet. Call us on 0203 675 0780 (Mon-Fri).