Advances in flea and tick control on dogs and cats have markedly improved the effectiveness of preventative measures.
Flea infestation is a common concern among pet owners, but many fail to implement an effective anti flea strategy - perhaps by buying ineffective products, overlooking the treatment of eggs and larvae living in the home environment or forgetting to apply the products within a suitable time frame.
Flea bite dermatitis can affect dogs and cats and causes itching, scratching, alopecia and scabs, commonly along the back, due to rubbing or biting themselves.
Flea allergic dermatitis is caused by the animals own immune system having an exaggerated response to flea infestation, resulting in more severe skin signs compared to simple flea bite dermatitis.
Transfer of worms can be caused as the flea is an intermediate host for a tapeworm.
If an infected flea is eaten by a cat or dog (usually during grooming) an adult tapeworm can form within the intestines.
Heavy blood loss anaemia can be caused by heavy flea infestation especially in young puppies and kittens.
Infectious anaemia can also be transferred by fleas, one form being the cause of “cat scratch fever”.
Fleas can also transmit the feline leukaemia virus. Fleas can also bite humans causing intense itching and discomfort.
Painful, more severe reactions may occur if an individual is allergic or hypersensitive to flea bites and secondary bacterial infection may occur if the bites are scratched.
Owners should regularly inspect pets coats and should seek veterinary attention if they suspect flea infestation.
And if infestation is confirmed an appropriate insecticide should be applied to the animal and also to the animals environment.
Many veterinary practices offer a free inspection for the possibility of flea infestation and there are many products easy to apply in the form of drops on the scruff of the neck or even in the form of a tablet which the vet or nurse will administer.