16 January 2012

Coastal fleas and your pets

Many pet owners living along the coast may find themselves at a loss when it comes to fighting what often seems to be an uphill battle against these home invaders.


The constant threat of fleas is far more pronounced at the coast than inland. Many pet owners living along the coast may find themselves at a loss when it comes to fighting what often seems to be an uphill battle against these home invaders.

The reason for the unwavering activities of fleas at the coast can be contributed to a number of factors including the higher rainfall, humidity levels and temperatures  throughout the year, dense coastal shrub and the presence of beach sand. All of these create a perfect haven for fleas to operate all year round!

Fleas very rarely jump from one pet to another, as is often thought. Instead they are ‘picked up’ from infested flea environments and hosts. Vervet monkeys and other wildlife in the dense coastal vegetation are excellents hosts to these parasites. The infested host may leave flea eggs behind, which eventually hatch only to seek out a new breeding ground, which could be your family pet.

 The hazards caused by fleas can be detrimental to both to pets and pet owners, often resulting in the following:

  • hair loss in dogs and cats due to intense itching and scratching caused by the flea infestation;
  • flea allergy dermatitis – an unpleasant skin condition caused by an allergy to the flea’s saliva;
  • tapeworm – a harmful parasite found in the small intestine of dogs;
  • anaemia in young dogs and cats due to the large amount of blood loss caused by the blood-sucking parasites.

Families who live at the coast with their pets spend more time outdoors, making it important to be on the lookout and to treat for fleas on a continuous basis to prevent the invasion of these sea-side critters.

Helpful hints for effective tick and flea prevention

  • Be aware of signs that could indicate a flea problem, for example, if they're scratching more than usual.
  • Check your pets for both fleas and ticks on a regular basis.
  • Check for fleas by running a flea comb through your pet's coat, making sure the comb touches the skin below, or place a white paper towel beneath your pet and rub your hands across its fur. If black specks gather on the comb or fall on the paper towel, it may be flea dirt.
  • Keep your pets’ environment clean. Vacuum frequently where your pets like to lounge, especially carpets and soft coverings. Don't forget the inside of your car.
  • Regularly wash your pets’ beds, blankets, toys and other soft items in 60°C water.
  • Prevention is better than cure. The female flea can lay up to 46 eggs per day and these will hatch within one to 10 days.
  • Giving your pets the very best will not only reward their love and loyalty, but is also the most cost-effective and efficient solution. Ask your vet about effective flea control.

(Issued by Frontline Plus, January 2011)

Fun flea facts



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