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The environment, flea products and the need for year round flea control

02 March 2022
7 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 2
Figure 1. Cat flea adult.


The need for routine flea treatment is fundamental to parasite control protocols in cats and dogs. The benefits of routine flea treatment need to be considered against the possible environmental impact that may be associated with long-term use. This article considers whether routine flea treatment of all UK cats and dogs is justified, the evidence for environmental contamination with flea products and the role of the veterinary nurse in client education.

Cat fleas (Figure 1) can live on a wide variety of mammalian hosts including cats, dogs, rabbits and wildlife, such as foxes and hedgehogs (Clark et al, 2018). They are also well suited to living in the humidity and temperatures maintained in most UK homes, with 95% of a typical flea infestation existing in the home as eggs, larvae and pupae. This combination of factors leads to increased flea challenge on domestic pets and without routine preventative treatment, there is a high risk of flea infestations establishing (Coles and Dryden, 2014). Cat fleas are present across the UK with the potential for any cat and dog to be exposed with subsequent household infestation. This risk means year round flea control is important to prevent owner irritation, flea allergic dermatitis in pets and the risk of zoonotic pathogen exposure in owners. Recent studies have also, however, demonstrated environmental contamination with compounds present in some flea preventative products, so any control programmes using year round flea control should do so while minimising environmental contamination. Veterinary nurses play a key role in communicating these risks to clients and maximising product administration compliance.

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