RECORD PETS; Banish Those Festive Fleas
Byline: NEIL McINTOSH
THE festive season is a great time for visitors. Friends and relatives will pop by for a little Christmas spirit and some nibbles.
But they are not the only ones who might come a calling. Fleas might visit your dog or cat.
Fleas love this time of year. The reason is that modern central heating blasts out warmth all day and fools fleas into feeling that spring has arrived.
Consequently, their eggs and larvae, which have been buried deep in our carpets since autumn, start to develop into adults and begin their search for a suitable restaurant to have Christmas dinner. Your dog or cat will provide the perfect place and the fleas don't even need to book in advance.
Research results just published show that one in 10 dogs and one in three cats will have fleas during December, January and February. Surprisingly, these figures represent a 31 per cent increase over surveys carried out in 1996.
Understanding the life cycle of the flea allows this irritating problem to be dealt with effectively. Let's start with just one adult flea.
She jumps on to your pet and crawls under the hair where she is very good at hiding. She sucks a little blood and within 48 hours starts laying eggs, 20 or so at a time.
These eggs fall off the animal's coat and larvae hatch out of them. These wee larvae crawl away into dark corners deep in your carpet where they pupate and spin a cocoon. Within 12 days of the first egg being laid, adult fleas can start emerging to begin the cycle again. Pretty soon, there are thousands of them crawling about.
But there is no use getting out the vacuum cleaner and trying to suck them out the carpet. They are buried far too deep.
It is no good going over your pet relentlessly with a flea comb either. …