Does my pet have fleas? How do I check? What do I do next?

Does my pet have fleas? How do I check? What do I do next?

You probably already know that fleas are the most common visible parasite affecting cats and dogs but why do they keep coming back?

Traditionally a problem in the spring/summer months, milder winters and central heating have now made fleas a year-round problem.

We tell you all you need to know about these pesky pests, their life stages, how to spot them and treat both your pet and your home.

Flea facts

  • On average, a female flea lays 50 eggs a day on our pets, which then fall off around the home as they move through their daily routine.
  • These eggs develop into larvae which move away from light and develop in carpets and dark crevices, e.g. between floorboards, where they feed on flea faeces and other animal waste and vegetable matter
  • Larvae undergo two moults and stop feeding when they reach the third larval stage (pupa) – this can take 5 – 11 days depending on food supply, temperature and humidity
  • The final larval stage spins a whitish cocoon (pupa) with a hardened shell which is difficult to see and vacuum up
  • The pupae need to hatch into adult fleas before household spray Flea treatments can take effect
  • Pupae can easily survive for 6 months to a year when undisturbed. That’s why treatment of the home and pets has to be carried out more than once. If however, the conditions are  just right, development from pupa to adult can only take 8 – 12 days.
  • Warmth, vibration and exhaled carbon dioxide (from you or your pet) help stimulate the pupae into hatching

Pets pick up fleas whilst out and about, in parks, gardens and other homes. This means that no matter how clean your house is, you could be facing a flea any time soon.

Spotting the signs

Flea bites can be irritating, causing your pet to scratch, chew their skin and over groom, particularly at the base of their tail, groin area and along their stomach.

You might see patches of fur loss or signs of irritated skin such as redness.

Fleas can also be the cause of disease in your pet.  Some pets are allergic to the flea saliva, a condition known as flea allergic dermatitis, they can pass on tapeworms, and heavy infestations can even lead to anaemia in young animals.

Fleas are exceptionally good at hiding so not seeing live fleas does not mean there are no fleas!

As pets groom they remove some of the fleas and also ‘flea dirt’ (flea faeces) – Did you know that pets can actually become infected with tape worms by eating the flea (as fleas carry tapeworm eggs).

There is a simple test you can perform at home to look for signs of fleas on your pets – wet a white piece of kitchen towel, and comb through your pet’s fur with a fine comb onto the towel.  ‘Flea dirt’ will appear dark on the paper and then turn the surrounding paper red or rusty brown because flea feaces or “dirt” is dried blood. This will confirm if your pet has fleas. If in doubt, talk to your vet practice for advice.

What’s the best way to get rid of fleas?

  • Using a spot on treatment for your pet such as Frontline PLUS and Effipro® kills adult fleas that jump on your pet and will continue to do so for the period the treatment is active for but unfortunately that is only about 5% of the problem!
  • You are still left with 95% of the flea problem in your home which will need household insecticide sprays, to treat your home
  • Regular vacuuming and washing of your pets bedding, in combination with a household spray, will help you to keep your home flea free.

RIP Fleas Extra Spray 600ml on Animed Direct

RIP Fleas Extra Spray 600ml

Genitrix RIP Fleas Extra Spray is a reliable, instant, protecting and complete solution to...

Our Price: £9.9900

Indorex Household Flea Spray 500ml on Animed Direct

Indorex Household Flea Spray 500ml

Indorex Household Flea Sprayis the leading veterinary household spray* offering protection...

Our Price: £8.9900

Frontline Plus Spot On Cat - Pack of 3 on Animed Direct

Frontline Plus Spot On Cat - Pack Of 3


Our Price: £15.5400

Frontline HomeGard Household flea spray 400ml on Animed Direct

Frontline HomeGard Household Flea Spray 400ml

Frontline HomeGard is a household flea spray from the manufacturers of Frontline Spot On, ...

Our Price: £10.5500

Don’t forget, Animed Direct offer prescribed flea treatments too, at very competitive prices. Check out our prices on any pet medication or prescription flea treatments by searching our A- Z.

If you are in any doubt about regular flea (and worming treatments) talk to your vet for advice.


[Photo Credit: Eyesplash – What happened to winter]