Invasion of the Flea!

Close up photo of a Flea

Invasion of the Flea!

It’s a Wonderful Time of the Year … If You’re a Flea!

Fleas are having a great time! A mix of warm and damp weather means there’s currently a population explosion going on - albeit slightly under the cover of … fur!

Whilst fleas are commonly associated with cats and dogs, rabbits can suffer with fleas too - and this is quite common with multi-pet households - if your dog or cat has fleas, it’s highly likely your rabbit has fleas too.

The Tell-Tale Signs!

The most obvious symptom of a flea infestation is frequent scratching, but signs of hair loss, spots, allergic reactions and redness can also occur. Tiny dark debris may also be visible at the base of light fur … this is likely to be flea poop(!). But the absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean no infestation. Pets regularly groom themselves (and others!) which can remove some active fleas … but rest assured others will be waiting to pounce!

And fleas are not too fussed if they come across a human either. They are happy to bite away causing itchy, red welts commonly around the feet, ankles and lower legs.

The bite is only the first stage of flea contact; once the skin has been broken, the flea injects a little saliva to stop blood clotting from the initial wound (yuk!) and then sucks the blood for a hearty meal.







Operation Target Flea

Treatment must include pets and the environment to be fully effective - and over several months too.



A Little About the Flea ...

Fleas have an interesting life. And, despite what people may think, the majority of their life (some 95% of it) is spent away from your pet. So if you spot a flea on your pet, chances are fleas have been around the house for a good while!

The female flea can lay around 50 eggs per day - and this can be for 3 months or more. In ideal conditions, the life cycle from egg to fully functioning bitey flea can be as short as a few weeks, giving some idea of how quickly a small infestation can rapidly get out of hand.

Eggs are white and around 1/2mm in length. They hatch into larvae of around 2-5mm in length, and these larvae will head for carpet, skirting boards, and anywhere else warm and cosy and out of sunlight. They’ll feed off general debris for a number of days then create a cocoon for the ultimate in snugness!

This cocoon is quite an extraordinary thing; it can keep the larvae snug and safe for 6 months, and is totally resilient against insecticides … the equivalent of an underground bunker! As the cocoon is so robust, it means that infestation treatment must continue for a number of months after the first treatment to ensure newly developed fleas are killed once they emerge from their cocoon, and before they have the chance of adding to the population.


Treatment is quite straightforward, but it needs to be comprehensive. It falls into two areas - the animal and the environment. The animal is effectively treated with, typically, a spot on - and fortunately there is a licensed spot on treatment for rabbits called Advantage, which is also licensed for use on cats and dogs, so perfect for a multi-pet household. The environment is effectively treated with a combination of insecticide applications, such as the flea spray Indorex, as well as vacuuming which helps with the removal of eggs, and is best done at least every few days to help keep new egg populations down.

It should be noted that Advantage Spot On Flea Treatment is the only licensed flea treatment product available for rabbits. This product is also licensed for use on cats and dogs too, so ideal for a multi-pet household. The household treatment Indorex, is safe to use in households with rabbits, cats, dogs and other pets too.

Only use licensed species-specific treatment; some cat or dog flea spot-ons are harmful to rabbits and must not be used on or around them.

But It's Just an Itch, Right?

So other than biting and causing itching, why are fleas so bad? These are just some of the things fleas can do…

  • Spread disease - such as Myxomatosis, RHD1 and RHD 2
  • Cause anemia through blood loss - this can be fatal in the very young
  • Can transmit tapeworm - this can affect rabbits as well as cats and dogs
  • Allergic reactions - causing much scratching, fur loss and other issues
  • Bites can get infected - may require veterinary treatment

Alternative Treatments

In addition to flea treatment products, there are a number of flea repellents and health ‘remedies’ available. Some are in spot-on format to apply on the pet, others promoted as natural sprays or oils (for example lavender oil) as environmental control. Repellents or remedies can help to reduce infestation potential by creating a less appealing environment, so useful as part of the normal housekeeping routine. But repellents and natural remedies will not prevent an infestation; nor will they be effective in treating an existing infestation.

Advantage Spot On Flea Treatment is a licensed veterinary medicine, in the category of NFA-VPS, meaning it must be prescribed and sold by either a veterinarian or an AMTRA qualified Animal Medicines Advisor.


Not sure where to go from here?

The Hay Experts has an AMTRA qualified Animal Medicines Advisor, who is on hand to help with the prescribing of POM-VPS and NFA-VPS products for companion animals. Please call our office on 01189 099 066 or contact us using the web contact page from here to discuss your needs. This is a free service to our customers.

Contact our Animal Medicines Advisor for general advice or speak with your vet for any immediate health concerns.

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