Flea invasion!

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Hotter summers and warmer, wetter winters have created an ideal breeding ground for these pesky parasites.

Billions of fleas are set to hibernate in our centrally-heated homes over the winter, experts have warned.  

The flea population is increasing, check your dog over thoroughly if he seems itchy.

Bob Martin, one of the UK’s oldest pet-care brands, is reporting a series of mild winters in recent years has resulted in a swelling of the flea population, meaning infestations of the parasites are becoming increasingly common. 

Fleas thrive in damp and humid conditions, but can’t develop below 12°C, meaning winter usually breaks their life cycle. However, with our central heating being cranked up, experts fear a ‘perfect storm’ of infestations. And the homes most at risk are those with pets who haven’t been treated with flea and tick products. 

Aurelie Gayraud, senior brand manager at Bob Martin, commented: “All pet owners should be aware that fleas can develop into armoured pupae over winter, which can be a real pain. The optimal temperature for fleas is between 21°C and 29°C, which also happens to be the optimal temperature for humans! 

“Although winter would naturally kill them off, our central heating will keep them cosy until they’re ready to re-emerge in spring. While vacuuming can help remove some of them, it’s not 100 per cent effective — just a few fleas left behind could turn into a full-blown infestation in days.  

“Once in the home, fleas love to hop around on furniture, carpets, and soft furnishings. Just one female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, which take just days to hatch, so a home infestation can quickly grow exponentially, easily spreading into the tens of thousands.  

“They’re easier to kill off when in the adult stage, but a holistic approach to eradicating fleas at every stage of their life cycle is really important. Effective flea prevention and treatment for your pet and home are key when it comes to totally eradicating an infestation.” 

Soft furnishings are an ideal breeding ground for fleas.

THE WARNING SIGNS

Aurelie recommends dog owners pay close attention to their pet’s itching and their fur, closely checking them for signs of ‘flea dirt’ — little brown or black spots. Comb your dog over a sheet of white paper; when water is added, specks of red in the dirt will identify that your pet has fleas. 

“Prevention is certainly the best course of action,” added Aurelie. “Make sure you’re regularly making use of flea treatments for your animals. You should also check your dog’s fur regularly. Run your fingers through his coat and check primarily behind his ears, paws, and around his neck.  

“If you’ve identified that your dog has fleas, treatment is necessary to kill both adult fleas and ticks and also flea eggs to break the life cycle. 

“Once your dog has been treated, wash his bedding at over 40 degrees and spray any soft furnishings with a home flea spray. Re-spray the home after a few days in order to ensure you eradicate the problem for good!” 

For more information on Bob Martin, as well as tips and advice on managing fleas, ticks, and worms, visit www.bobmartin.co.uk