EXPERTS are calling on pet owners with weakened immune systems across the UK to be "especially vigilant" when treating their pets for flees this summer, as the parasites can pass on infections which can be fatal.

According to new research, flea numbers are set to soar this summer due to a cocktail of humid weather, heavy rains and a fall in people using preventative treatments on their cats and dogs during lockdown.

Nearly a half of pet owners said they did not feel comfortable or safe going out to the shop or vets to purchase treatment during lockdown, and 72% said they missed at least one preventative treatment between March and June during lockdown.

Pet owners with compromised immune systems can have fatal complications to blood borne infections from parasites such as fleas - and almost one in five people (17%) with a cat or dog are unaware of this, according to research by ""

The study of 1,000 pet owners with weakened immune systems reveals this lack of awareness is most prevalent amongst the over 55's - where the figure rises to one in three people (34%).

Many conditions and treatments can affect the body’s defence system and including organ transplants, heart disease, lupus, lung disease and diabetes, cancer, HIV, Aids and malnutrition and experts are warning that parasites pose a threat to the people with weak immune systems in the UK more than ever this summer.

Zoe Costigan, resident vet at pet wellbeing specialist,, said: "Nationally, our research tells us that one in ten owners of cats and dogs found it more difficult to treat their pets for parasites during Covid-19, and this figure jumped to 41% when we delved more closely into the habits of pet owners whose immune defences are more fragile."

“As fleas can also harbour in the home, it’s important to continue regular preventative treatment for your pets and also, because fleas have four main stages in their life cycle - adult, egg, larva, and pupa - the total flea life cycle can range from a couple weeks to several months, depending on environmental conditions, so missing the odd treatment really does matter.

"Diseases transmitted from fleas can include the likes of tapeworms - parasitic worms which can infect humans and migrate from the gut to cause cysts in other organs. Worse still, fleas can also pass on blood borne infections to humans and for those who are low immune systems are at much higher risk of having severe complications. When defences are lower, a person becomes much more susceptible to infection.”

The study also uncovered that 48% of pet owners with low immune systems considered their pets' health first and foremost, without pausing to consider the health risks posed to them by parasites, while one in six of those surveyed were not aware that fleas could pose a health risk to humans.