Fleas are troublesome pests that most pet owners face sooner or later. In fact, a flea infestation is one of the most common pet health problems. But just because it's common doesn't mean it's not serious. Fleas can torment your pet and cause a range of health problems in both pets and humans. Fleas can also be difficult to get rid of, however the good news is that there are many new products that make this process easier. Read on to learn about fleas, and how to prevent and treat them.

The Lifecycle of a flea

Fleas are small brown/black wingless biting insects that live in the hair coat of dogs, cats and other small pets. Fleas are bloodsuckers with well-developed mouth parts that can pierce the relatively thick skin of animals. When they feed, they secrete saliva to clot the blood. It's the saliva that causes skin irritations and allergic reactions.

An adult female flea can begin producing eggs within 24-48 hours of having a blood meal, laying up to 50 eggs a day. That’s up to 2000 eggs in a lifetime. Eggs may survive for up to 3 years.

The eggs are laid on your dog or cat, but fall rapidly into the environment, wherever your pet walks or sleeps. Once flea larvae hatch, they move to a warm dark area to mature, often down in the carpet, in your pet’s bedding, and even cracks and crevices, feeding on adult flea faeces – which is digested blood. When conditions of heat and humidity are right, the full life cycle can be completed in about 2-3 weeks. If the environment isn’t right, the flea pupae can live for up to a year before emerging.


Because fleas are difficult to spot, a flea infestation is usually diagnosed by the presence of black flakes or specks that fleas leave behind i.e. flea dirt which is actually flea excrement. Even if you can't see them, if your pet has flea dirt, your pet has live fleas.

Fleas are usually found on the animals back, rump, stomach, and at the base of his tail, or around the head. Your pet may scratch and bite himself if he/she has fleas, especially if the flea bites cause irritation or an allergic reaction. However, not all pets will scratch if they have fleas, especially cats.

 Problems caused by fleas

  • Skin irritation/self trauma – large numbers of fleas moving over the skin and coat can cause much irritation to your pet. Flea bites can cause intense itching that lasts long after the fleas are killed. Pets may bite or scratch themselves, often to the point of causing hair loss, raw bleeding skin and infection – which makes the irritation worse.

  • Flea allergy dermatitis/flea bite hypersensitivity – the saliva of fleas has the ability to cause an intense allergic reaction in some pets. Once your dog or cat is sensitised to flea saliva, just one bite is enough to set off a severe skin reaction. In dogs this is often around the tail base.

  • Tapeworms - Fleas also carry tapeworms. Dogs and cats can become infected with tapeworms if they swallow infected fleas while grooming. It's also possible for humans, (especially children) if they accidentally ingest these fleas, to become infected with tapeworms.

  • Flea anaemia - A less common health concern is flea anaemia. Puppies and kittens are particularly at risk of flea anaemia, which results when the fleas suck enough blood to cause a life-threatening condition. A pet suffering from flea anaemia will have pale gums. In advanced cases, the dog may become listless and cold. Check your dog's gums regularly so you can recognize a change that may indicate a health problem.

    So how do we get rid of them ?!?! 

Prevention and treatment

There are a number of sprays and medications you can use to both treat and prevent flea infestations.

The Ashman Jones Flea Prevention Strategy :

  1. Use a spot-on which works – There are many products out there and we have seen resistance in a number of products which used to be the 'Gold Standard' but now have resistance developing so make sure you get one which will kill the fleas and also help prevent any problems in the environment. We have had the most success with Stronghold* as it is very safe whilst also working below the superficial layer of your pets skin remaining present even in wet conditions (swimming, grooming or bathing).*Stronghold also treats other biting insects such as ear mites

  2. Use a Household Flea Spray which works – Buying a Veterinary grade can of Indorex as a first measure will actually mean that you are getting it right first time and not wasting your money on cheaper products which don't work. Remember to treat anything that pets may come into contact with including bedding, rugs and blankets (But beware of fish tanks). We recommend vaccuming all your soft furnishings first to bring everything to the surface. Then spray all surfaces and consider doing this again in 2-3 weeks to help break the flea cycle.

  3. Repeat the process -You should maintain a stringent flea protection protocol throughout the year as fleas and flea eggs can be found in your house all year round. Stronghold lasts 4-5 weeks so should be repeated at these intervals. By using Stronghold regularly, you can often avoid flare ups and problems associated with them.

  4. Be prepared for flare ups – The start of Summer (when it gets warm) and the start of winter (when the central heating gets turned on) tend to be the worst times for fleas so be well prepared to prevent flare ups by using your preventative measures at these time.

Warning !:

  • Be very careful when using supermarket flea treatments  These products often contain poisons such as organophosphates, which can be hazardous to your pet’s health, especially if they are old or unwell. Some of these products are highly toxic to cats.

  • Do not mix insecticides without veterinary advice

  • Adhere strictly to product instructions. Do not overdose or underdose

  • Do not use adult pet product on puppies or kittens under 3 months of age, and do not use dog flea products on cats