Sunday, 27 August 2017

Poor Advice - Lets talk about Fleas

Sometimes I wrack my brains for new blog post material, and all it takes is for me to be left flabbergasted by someone receiving some dodgy advice for me to feel the need to write about it. Today was one of those days and an easy one to feel the need to write about it.

Visiting a friend today I was quizzed about fleas. She'd recently taken her cat to her local vets due to a skin condition. Turns out it was the same condition she'd mentioned to me last year, may I add my advice hadn't changed but there seems to be a certain stigma surrounding fleas and that people think it points to uncleanliness - which it doesn't. I suspect this is why it wasn't tackled properly last time. Anyways I digress.

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The symptoms, scabbing of the skin, same time as last year. Have been treating regularly with flea products hmmmm. Skin scrapes were taken last year and couldn't diagnose the problem. I asked what products she was using - and it all becomes clear. An easy diagnosis...or should have been - Flea Allergic Dermatitis - this is basically where your pet develops a hypersensitivity to flea bites. 



For a more in depth explanation of FAD please read:


The part of this story that amazed me most - the vet when asked by my friend whether she needed to treat for worms as well said 'no' the cat should be fine...!! Eh..?? Let's go back a bit and get back to basics. For starters it's summer, cats hunt to supplement their diet you should, therefore, be keeping well up to date with both worm and flea treatments. Even if they are not hunters the flea and worm life cycle interact. 

  • Tapeworm scientific name Dipylidium caninum
  • Cat flea scientific name Ctenocephalides felis


What this basically shows is that cats can acquire tapeworms by ingesting an intermediate host - the flea. Nature is pretty amazing really and the tapeworm is very clever! The tapeworm once ingested by the flea causes the flea to become slow and groggy, therefore making it more easy for your unsuspecting pet to ingest the flea when it's naturally grooming itself. And boom...the tapeworm is now in your beloved pet's system and so the life cycle continues. So whilst I would never bad mouth another professional the advice this vet gave was, diplomatically less than adequate, ok honestly though and undiplomatically the advice was pure bull. 

Image result for listen to nurses meme

Tapeworms do also fall into the classification of zoonotic - which we nurses all LOVE. Whilst rare there have been cases mainly in children of the tapeworm infecting humans. You've been warned, stop eating those fleas :p. 

There are products on the market that are well known in the industry to no longer work on your pets to treat fleas, due to a resistance that has built up. I've got to be careful not to name and shame these but what I will say don't waste your money on any products that contain the active ingredient 'Fipronil' 

Treat your pets regularly with a decent product and you should never have a problem. However if you do get an infestation please remember to treat the environment as well, otherwise, your problem will remain and your efforts will be for nothing. Also, you rarely see active fleas on your pet, this doesn't mean they don't have them...and if you do see them you've already got a bit problem by this point. A simple check you can do is to groom your pet over some white kitchen towel if you see black specs dampen the towel and if it turns red...well that's flea poo..! Which means your pet has fleas.



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