Revealed: how fleas affect the health and homes of pet owners

A huge majority of British pet owners have been affected by flea outbreaks, with 82% struggling to keep fleas under control and more than three quarters of homes having been infested by fleas in the past.

The survey by MSD Animal Health questioned 2,000 British pet owners about the ways in which flea infestations have impacted them and their animals, with an incredible 100% of respondents stating that their furry friends have had fleas at least once.

Almost three quarters (73%) of those surveyed said they underestimated just how much of a problem fleas could be before they decided to get a pet, whilst 13% said fleas would actually put them off getting another pet in future.

Health impact of fleas on pet owners

The survey found:

• 30% of those surveyed said they had been bitten by fleas
• 5% explained they had been left permanently scarred by flea bites.
• 76% admitted that their homes had become infested by fleas, with eggs spreading to sofas, bedding and carpets.
• 23% of those questioned explained that their carpets have had to be replaced or cleaned due to problems with fleas

Fleas have not only caused a physical impact on the pet owners surveyed, but stress has also proven to be a major factor for those dealing with their pets’ fleas.

• 58% of those questioned said they felt stressed during flea outbreaks
• 17% said they felt self-conscious about fleas

The Big Flea Project

Despite the havoc that fleas can cause, 57% of those surveyed admitted they were not aware about the life cycle of a flea before their pet caught them. This is the main reason why fleas can continue to thrive uncontrollably.

MSD have launched the Big Flea Project, which aims to raise awareness of the threat of fleas to both pets and humans, and educate pet owners on how to treat fleas properly.

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham, an ambassador for this campaign said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and the health of our pets is of utmost importance to us.

"Flea infestations can be an uncomfortable and distressing experience for both pets and humans, so we are campaigning to raise greater awareness of how such infestations can be avoided.

“Over the next few months The Big Flea Project will be attending events across the country to give tips on how to keep animals and homes protected by fleas, and we hope the country will join us to get behind such a worthwhile cause.”

A spokesperson from MSD added: “The study shows just how devastating a flea infestation can be, both in the home and for your pet, and reveals just how common flea outbreaks are. Not only do flea infestations cause great discomfort to animals, but they can also have a detrimental impact on a human's health too.

“Over the coming weeks, the Big Flea project aims to raise awareness of fleas, an issue that affects the homes, pets and lives of of many Brits. We believe that through better understanding, pet owners can manage fleas more effectively.”

For more information about this project visit: bigfleaproject.co.uk