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A veterinary nurse-led approach to flea control

02 November 2018
12 mins read
Volume 9 · Issue 9


The cat flea Ctenocephalides felis is a common infestation of household pets and a source of revulsion, distress and irritation to pet owners. They can also transmit disease to both humans and pets. Flea control is therefore vital but not easy to achieve, and failures in attempts at control are common. This leads to owner frustration, as well as increased morbidity in pets, and raises questions regarding treatment efficacy and drug resistance. The veterinary nurse plays a vital role in educating clients on the risks associated with fleas, communicating the importance of effective control with clients and maximising compliance once a flea control plan has been established. This article discusses the principles of flea control and the role of the veterinary nurse.

Fleas are considered the most prevalent ectoparasite, with sources stating that 1:5 cats and 1:10 dogs have fleas at any given time (Elsheikha, 2017). According to The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, 82% of dogs and cats and 13% of rabbits in the UK were treated for fleas in 2017 (PDSA, 2017). Despite this, many owners are not aware of how pets can become infested with fleas.

Broadly speaking, there are two main situations in which a client will approach veterinary staff for advice on fleas:

Many clients may understand the need for preventative flea treatment, but not the necessity for regular prophylaxis in conjunction with environmental control methods. Those with an established infestation may have previously sought advice or treatment elsewhere which has been unsuccessful.

The role of the veterinary nurse (VN) is to educate clients on the life cycle of the flea and its associated control measures, its links with the tapeworm Dipylidium caninum (D. caninum) and how to treat an established infestation, while also managing the client's expectations.

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