Vet charity PDSA is warning that nearly four million dogs and cats* are at risk of flea infestations this summer after findings show a huge increase in the number of animals left exposed to their harmful effects.
The charity’s latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report showed a decline since 2014 of 900,000 cats and dogs** receiving preventive medication to protect them from the blood-sucking parasites.
Meanwhile, milder winters and widespread central heating have provided the perfect conditions for the UK flea population to increase in recent years.
“A flea infestation can cause intense suffering for a pet. Their skin will become itchy and inflamed, and some pets will scratch so much that their skin becomes sore and infected. For some, such as young kittens and puppies it can be incredibly serious,” said PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman.
“High infestations of fleas can cause a condition called flea anaemia. This is where the parasites have drained so much blood that they leave the animal desperately weak. In younger and smaller pets this can quickly become life threatening.”
PDSA is highlighting the issue after two kittens from a litter in Birmingham tragically died from flea anaemia.
Rebecca Thorne, senior vet at PDSA’s Aston Pet Hospital, explained that the litter was brought in with severe flea-bite anaemia last month.
She said: “Two kittens were brought into the hospital by their owner after a third had sadly passed away.
“The smaller kitten, called Rosie, had very pale gums, was collapsed and cold. The other kitten, Logan, was livelier but they were both covered in fleas.
“We gave both kittens intensive care. We fought as hard as we could but sadly we weren’t able to save Rosie. However, we were able to save Logan and thankfully he has gone on to make a full recovery.”