Scorching British weather leaves pet owners facing flea pandemic

As the UK has been experiencing sweltering temperatures of up to 27’C (77F) this week, pet owners have been warned that the hot weather could leave homes at risk of flea infestation.

Pets at Home is urging pet owners to regularly check their pets and homes for fleas, as the hot and humid weather conditions create the perfect breeding ground for the parasites to thrive.

Dr Karlien Heyrman, Head of Pets for Pets at Home, explained: “As exercise limitations have been lifted and we’re enjoying longer periods of time outdoors with our pets, the risk of flea eggs being varied into our homes from our dogs and cats is high. Couple this with the heatwave and pet owners could have a problem on their hands as hidden eggs can be stimulated into growth by the warm weather.

“In this current climate our homes have become a sanctuary for both work and play and the last thing pet owners need is a flea infestation in the environment where they are spending the majority of their time. If left untreated, long-term flea infestations can cause real suffering for pets – including dogs, cats and small furries.

“Repeated bites can be uncomfortable and itchy for an animal, sometimes resulting in hair loss or a secondary skin infection. Fleas may also bite humans so seeking regular treatment is a sensible precaution for all pet owners.”

The warmer the weather, the faster flea eggs develop into adults. In cool 13’C temperatures, this will take 140 days but when temperatures hit over 27’C, flea eggs become reproducing adults in as little as 22 days – with fleas laying up to 50 eggs per day in these conditions.

The population of fleas has grown rapidly in recent years due to warm but damp UK summers, creating the perfect breeding ground for fleas. This weather means the risk of an infestation is bigger than ever.

Fleas don’t just live on the pets themselves but also on bedding and other soft furnishings around the house. It is important for pet owners to ensure pet bedding is washed regularly and pets are checked for fleas and bites.

To prevent and treat fleas, Pets at Home has advised all pet owners to:

  • Regularly treat all cats and dogs in the household with a preventative flea treatment throughout the year
  • Check pet’s coat for fleas or flea droppings – brown or black spots
  • Treat homes, workplaces and cars with a household flea spray (ideally one that includes an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR)) but be careful using the spray near fish tanks as many are toxic to fish. Follow the on-pack instructions and ensure you cover any fish tanks with a blanket before using
  • Check the label of your pet bedding and wash regularly at the temperature shown
  • Clean furniture to help destroy fleas at the egg, larval or adult stage of their life cycle
  • Vigorously vacuum carpets, floorboards and skirting boards
  • Throw away the vacuum cleaner dustbag or empty the canister after each clean