The great British FLEA infestation: Sales of treatments and bite cream soar due to lazy pet owners
British households are suffering from an increasing number of flea infestations to due poor pet hygiene.
Sales of household flea treatments have soared over the winter – and the fact that last summer was the wettest in 100 years may be to blame, say experts.
It’s thought much of the rise may be down to owners reluctance to walk their dogs as regularly over the soggy summer, neglecting flea treatment and underestimating how easy it was for their dogs to subsequently pick up fleas when they did take them out for walks.
Experts say flea infestations may be due to the reluctance by owners to walk their dogs as regularly over the soggy summer weather, in turn neglecting flea treatment
Figures from the online pharmacy Chemist Direct show a 25 per cent drop in sales of flea treatment for dogs from June to September 2012 – normally their peak season – compared to the previous year – suggesting owners were not treating their pets as regularly.
But there was a 20 per cent increase in sales of anti-flea treatment such as Johnsons Household Flea Spray from September to December last year, compared to the same period in 2011.
Pharmacists at Chemist Direct also reported a rise in the number of calls from customers on flea bites, and sales of Anthisan bite cream were up by 42 per cent from September to December compared to the previous year.
‘When the weather became colder in the autumn, central heating was turned on, creating a perfect environment for household fleas to thrive,’ said Leila Bishop, pet products buyer at Chemist Direct.
‘It’s easy to become complacent when the weather is dire, but the reality is pets can pick up fleas from other animals, flea eggs in the soil or plants or in old pet toys and bedding.
Last summer was one of the wettest on record and many of our customers and suppliers have told us they believe that is the cause for the current infestation.’
Last August, Dr Tim Nuttall, veterinary dermatologist at the University of Liverpool, said the flea population has been rising for the past five years but that it has spiked more dramatically in the past two.
Warm houses with central heating create a perfect environment for household fleas to thrive
He explained that the increase in numbers is almost all down to the cat flea, which – despite its title – will live off dogs, ferrets and humans as well as felines.
Omar El-Gohary, Superintendent Pharmacist at Chemist Direct said: ‘Flea bites usually appear as red spots with reddened haloes, and are very itchy, and are commonly found on the feet and legs.
‘We’ve seen an unseasonal increase in customers contacting us for advice on flea bites. Bites should be washed with soap and water and then an antiseptic cream should be applied. If the bite is painful or swollen, take a painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and use an antihistamine cream such as Anthisan.’
The RSPCA says that a flea can live from between 14 days up to one year, with the female flea laying up to 50 eggs a day, although they can survive without a host for many months.
The British Pest Control Association recommends regularly treating pets with flea treatment and removing infested bedding and regularly treating walls and floors to prevent the pests returning.