Fleas And Flea Control

What are fleas?

Fleas are small blood sucking insects that live on cats, dogs, hedgehogs, rabbits and various other species of wildlife. The adult fleas lay eggs that fall out of your pet’s coat into their environment-your carpets, bedding, and furniture. One flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day! The eggs hatch out and release larvae which feed and then pupate. Pupae can remain dormant for many months, eventually hatching (stimulated by vibration, carbon dioxide and warmth) into young adults.  95% of the flea life cycle occurs in the environment – the fleas you see on your pet are therefore just ‘the tip of the iceberg’.

What problems do fleas cause?

The major sign of flea infestation is scratching. There are other causes of scratching but fleas are the most common cause that we encounter.

A number of pets develop an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea bite and become hypersensitive. Just one bite can trigger severe skin disease in these individuals. Typically dogs persistently nibble over their back and rump and will eventually lose their hair. Cats tend to develop a scabby reaction along their back and neck called miliary eczema.

Excessive grooming and nibbling causes loss of hair over their back and groin. 

Severe flea infestations in puppies and kittens can cause blood loss and anaemia.

Fleas are involved in the transmission of tapeworms.   

‘Fleas And Tapeworm’

Can fleas infest humans?

Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) is the most common type of flea found on both cats and dogs. They will bite humans, but they will not survive and stay on us – they much prefer our pets!

How do you treat and control fleas?

This has to be considered a two-pronged attack:

1. Killing the adult fleas on your pet

2. Dealing with eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment.

How to get rid of a flea infestation

  • Correctly apply a pipette of your veterinary supplied ‘spot on’ treatment to all the dogs and cats in your home. You must make sure you use the correct size for each of your pet’s weight. This will kill any adult fleas on your pet within 24 hours. It will also kill any more that jump on and sterilise their eggs so they don’t hatch.
  • Vacuum your home thoroughly moving all the furniture, even if you have wooden or laminate flooring. This removes some but NOT ALL of the eggs, larvae and pupae.
  • Wash all your pets bedding at 60°C to kill any of the immature stages.
  • Thoroughly spray all floor space in your home with a veterinary recommended household insecticidal spray. Remember to do everywhere your pet goes including the car. This kills flea eggs and larvae in your home but it DOES NOT kill the pupae.
  • There is no product available which kills pupae so you must encourage the pupae to hatch out so they will jump onto your pet and be killed by the ‘spot on’ treatment. To do this you must provide warmth, vibration and humidity by turning up the heating and vacuuming to generate warmth and vibration.
  • Continue to let your pets have their usual run of the house to allow the new adult fleas to jump onto your pet and be killed.
  • Continue vacuuming and treatment with a ‘spot on’ product all year round for all your pets as it can take several months to remove a flea infestation from your home.

A common reason for disappointing results when using ‘spot on’ treatments on your pets is that the fleas in the environment are not dealt with. There is a vast array of veterinary supplied spot-on and spray products which are safe and effective to use on your pet and in the environment.

Another reason we see animals with fleas is due to ineffective treatment.  While some other products available elsewhere may be cheaper, they are often not effective or cause reactions.  All our products are safe, easy to use and effective so you will save yourself money in the long run by using the right product the first time.

If you are unsure on what treatment is best for your pet, then please feel free to come and talk to your receptionist, veterinary nurse or veterinary surgeon at your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets. We will be able to advise you on the best products for your situation.

Useful links:

ESCCAP Leaflet – Fleas

ESCCAP Leaflet – Are you at risk from parasites?

Cat Worming – Roundworms and Tapeworms

What are worms?

The two types of worms that commonly affect your dog and cat are roundworms (Toxocara) and tapeworms. The most common type of tapeworm is Dipylidium caninum. However there are other types of worms called lungworms, hookworms and whipworms that can also infect our pets and so treatment and prevention of these is also important.


As their name implies, these are worms which have round bodies.  They are the most common intestinal worm in dogs and cats and they are present in most puppies and kittens. The worms consume partially digested food in the intestines of our pets and produce microscopic eggs which are then passed in our pet’s faeces. Puppies and kittens with roundworms may expel whole worms as well as eggs into their faeces when young.

How does my pet get roundworms?

Infected animals pass roundworms eggs into the environment from their faeces. Even after the faeces has disappeared the eggs can survive in the environment for up to 3 years. Dogs and cats snuffling in the grass will swallow these eggs and become infected. They will also become infected from eating infected rodents. Once the eggs have been ingested they develop into adult worms inside your pet which then shed more eggs into the environment and the cycle continues.  Puppies and kittens may already be infected before birth from their mother or via their mother’s milk during nursing.

What problems do roundworms cause?

Large numbers can cause weight loss and a pot-bellied appearance to puppies and kittens and weakness or general ill health in adults.  Decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea may be seen. If there are too many worms in the bowel of a puppy or kitten, they can cause a blockage and consequently death. Roundworms are harmful to people and children are at particular risk if infected.  A variety of organs may be affected but the main danger is if the larvae migrate to the eye where they can cause blindness.

How do you treat and prevent roundworms?

Regular worming stops your pet from shedding eggs into the environment, helping to reduce the risks of other people and pets becoming infected. It is very important to implement a strict worming program for your pet even if there are no signs of infestation. We advise worming every two weeks until they are twelve weeks of age and then once every three months on a regular basis for life with a multiwormer.  The wormers we use at the veterinary surgery are broad spectrum and will generally treat all types of worms.  Often supermarket or pet shop wormers will only cover one or two types of worms and therefore if your pet is infected with a different type of worm then the treatment will not be effective.

Other ways you can protect your pets are:

Making sure as a responsible pet owner that you clear up your pet’s faeces and discourage dogs from toileting in areas normally used by children. The eggs are often highly resistant to most common disinfectants and to harsh environmental conditions so removal of faeces is the most effective means of preventing reinfection.

Good hygiene routines are very important for example washing your pet’s bedding and feeding bowls regularly. It is also important to wash our hands and educate children to wash theirs after playing with animals and not to let dogs lick faces.

Pregnant dogs should be wormed in late pregnancy. This will help to reduce potential contamination of the environment for the puppies. All new puppies should be treated by 2 –3 weeks of age and then as mentioned previously.


These worms live in the small intestine of our pets attaching themselves to the wall by hook-like mouthparts.  They can reach up to 20cm in length and are made up of many small segments carrying eggs. As the worm matures these break off and pass into your pet’s faeces.  Sometimes these rice-like segments can be seen crawling near your pet’s anus or on the surface of their faeces.

How does my pet get tapeworms?

Infected animals pass tapeworm eggs into the environment from their faeces, where they survive for up to a year. Tapeworm eggs can also be eaten by fleas where the eggs continue development. The fleas are then ingested when your pet grooms themselves and the flea is swallowed.  As the flea is digested in their intestines, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to their intestinal lining. Tapeworm eggs can also be swallowed by sheep, cattle or rabbits as they graze and if pets are allowed to feed on their carcasses they may become infected.

What problems do tapeworms cause?

Segments from the worm can cause irritation around your pet’s anal area and this can lead to ‘scooting’ along the ground. In large numbers they may cause debilitation and general ill health.   Occasionally if a tapeworm loses its attachment in their intestines it may move into your pet’s stomach and can then be vomited up. Tapeworms are infectious to people although it is quite rare. A flea must be ingested for humans to become infected with the most common type of tapeworm.  Therefore flea control is the best way to prevent human infection. One less common group of tapeworms called Echinococcus (hydatids) is a particular threat to human health and can cause serious disease when humans are infected.  Sheep and humans are the final host. This disease only occurs in particular areas of the UK, mainly large rural farming areas such as Wales.

How do you treat and prevent tapeworm?

Treatment is often the same preparation that is also effective against roundworms.  Hygiene and other precautions as explained before with roundworms are also required. In particular effective control of fleas is important in the management and prevention of tapeworms. Flea control involves treatment of your pets, the indoor environment and any outdoor environment where your pets may reside.  If your pet lives in a flea-infested environment, reinfection may occur in as little as two weeks.  As veterinary supplied medication is very effective, return of the tapeworms is almost always due to reinfection of the environment not failure of the product.

Please click on the video below to watch a video on ‘How Profender Works.’

Useful links:

ESCCAP Leaflet – Are you at risk from parasites?