Picture it: you’re locked down and at home a whole lot more; the dog is thrilled (the cat probably less so!). You’re getting to spend some quality time with the family, not to mention making the most of the exercise allowance. And then the dog starts itching.
Fleas are a common problem, and spring is one of the worst times of the year for them. And with everything going on, it’s not unlikely that you forgot to keep up with your pet’s preventatives. After all, they hardly seem ‘essential’ right now – or perhaps your vet needs to re-assess your pet before prescribing any more flea prevention. Either way, fleas are as present as they’ve ever been. With a nation of people who haven’t managed to apply preventatives yet, they’re spreading quickly. So, we’ve got together some top tips to keep the fleas out during lockdown.
1. Talk to your vet
Vets are considered essential and are open during lockdown. They also have to consider public health and the risk of spreading the disease to their clients and staff. This means that vets are open on an ‘emergency-only’ basis. Only seeing things in the clinic that are life-threatening or severe threat to welfare. But now we’ve got things a little more under control, many vets are offering to post out flea and worm preventatives, or provide a delivery service. If your pet is due a check-up, a temporary relaxation in the prescribing rules means they can do an examination using a video consultation in order to get your pets what they need. They may also be able to offer a non-prescription alternative that is suitable for your location and pet.
2. Don’t forget the cats and rabbits!
Whilst lots of people may flea treat their dog, the cats – especially if they spend a lot of time outside – are sometimes forgotten. However, cats are very prone to picking up fleas whilst they’re out and about, especially if there are strays or wildlife in the area. Make sure you cover your cat with year-round preventative treatment to prevent them from bringing it in. And whilst you’re at it, check the rabbit. Rabbits rarely need preventative flea medication. However they can harbour fleas, so it’s a good idea to check them over regularly. And get them treatment if you have a flea outbreak.
3. Apply a flea spray to the house
Veterinary-strength flea sprays for the house contain a long-acting insecticidal. They help to keep the flea eggs and adult fleas out, and usually last 6-12 months. Your vet will be able to recommend a brand that’s effective. Make sure you read all label instructions. The ingredients can be poisonous to fish, cats and other animals and should never be applied directly to pets. Spraying just before you leave the house for your daily exercise is a good idea. Make sure to get the carpets, curtains, soft furnishings and skirting boards as well as between floorboards and under sofas!
4. Wash all bedding at a high temperature
Washing your pet’s bedding at 60C or more is a good way to ensure any fleas – or their eggs, larvae or pupae – don’t have anywhere to hide. This actually goes for anywhere your pet sleeps, including human duvets and cushions! Take advantage of the nice weather and the time in lockdown to give everything a good thorough spring clean!
5. Social distancing for dogs
If your dog has normal flea prevention on board, the chance of them picking up fleas from playing with other dogs is slim. But with flea prevention all around the country being a bit haphazard right now means the risk is higher than usual. It’s a good idea to reduce your pet’s interactions with other dogs in order to stop them from getting fleas and bringing them home.
Protecting your pets, your home, and your family from fleas is just as important during lockdown as it is the rest of the year. If you think your pet is not protected, or you’re not sure when they need more flea treatment, it’s a good idea to call your local vet for advice. They’ll almost certainly be able to point you in the right direction, and get you the protection you need.