Flea outbreaks in homes: how to spot them in your house and how to get rid of them

While most pet owners may be tricked into thinking that fleas aren’t an issue to worry about during winter, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 11:34 am
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 12:35 pm
Do you know the signs of fleas? (Photo: Shutterstock)

As temperatures drop and more people go to switch on the heating, this is everything you need to know about fleas during winter.

Central heating and fleas

While fleas are usually more of a problem during the warmer months, the central heating used to warm homes during winter creates a perfect breeding ground for fleas to thrive.

According to 365 Vet, triggers that can cause adult flea to hatch include an “increase in carbon dioxide, vibrations and warmth”.

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“Therefore, the turning on of our central heating in Autumn time can often act as a trigger and cause a sudden flea population boom in the house,” a blog post from 365 Vet explains.

The PDSA also explains that “the central heating and vibrations ‘wake up’ flea eggs or pupae in the carpets”.

Perfect temperature

According to PetMD fleas thrive in temperatures around 23C, which so happens to be around the same average temperature people set their heating to in the UK.

Ovo Energy says that “central heating thermostats are generally set to around 20C” in UK homes during the winter season.

“Generally speaking, the warmer the environment is, the easier life is for fleas - and the faster they’ll complete their life cycle. The point at which this ceases to be is around 30C - but few households reach this temperature, as it isn’t comfortable for humans,” 365 Vet explains.

How to spot fleas on your pet

Signs that your pet might have fleas include itching, chewing or licking more than normal and red and inflamed skin.

You might be able to see the creatures as well - adult fleas are about an eighth of an inch long, have reddish-brown and are very thin.

You may also spot something called ‘flea dirt’, which looks like specs of pepper. You might see it on your pet’s skin, your pet’s bedding, the carpet or any places your pet likes to hang out.

How to get rid of fleas

If you think you’ve got a flea problem, then there are a few measures you can take to eradicate them and keep your pet and home clear.

Firstly, you should take your pet to the vet for advice and make sure that you treat all of your pets to make sure none of them are carrying fleas.

“Because 95 per cent of fleas live in the environment (your home) rather than on your pet, we’d always recommend treating your home for fleas to help clear an infestation,” the PDSA says.

You should hoover your home thoroughly to get rid of any fleas on your furniture and in your carpets and treat your home with a household flea spray to kill fleas and their eggs. If you are a cat owner, make sure that this spray doesn’t contain a chemical called permethrin, as it is toxic to cats.