An elderly dog with a flea infestation so bad it was causing his legs to buckle has found a new, happy home in Chester.

The story of 16-year-old crossbreed Ben was featured inTuesday’s Channel 5 programme Dog Rescuers, presented by Alan Davies.

The poor pooch had so many itchy pests crawling over his skin that his RSPCA rescuer and the experienced vet who treated him were taken aback.

But there was a happy ending to this particular shaggy-dog story as Ben was cleaned up and taken in by ‘smitten’ RSPCA volunteer fosterer Lisa Hughes, of Chester, where he will now live out his days in comfort.

After visiting Ben’s former home in Merseyside, RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes persuaded his owner to sign over the elderly dog so he could get immediate help for the fleas, which were leaving him cowering and whimpering in distress.

Anthony said: “There were more fleas on this dog than I’ve probably ever seen on an animal before. He was literally crawling with adult fleas, which was making him incredibly uncomfortable and agitated.

“The poor dog had clearly not been treated for a long time and I wanted to get him the help he needed as quickly as possible.”

Ben was taken to vet Hollie Jones, from Upton Veterinary Surgery in Wirral, who could barely believe the sheer number of fleas on him.

Anthony added: “When we shaved and washed him, fleas were pouring down the drain and covering our hands. The relief he felt must have been amazing.”

A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day and 1,500 over a lifetime. If left untreated, they can cause complications like dermatitis and anaemia.

Hollie feared that Ben, who had just four rotting teeth left, which had to be removed, had suffered nerve degeneration due to age which was causing him problems with his legs.

However, once Ben was treated, his leg problems cleared up – and it was revealed they had been caused by the sheer discomfort and stress of the infestation.

He has now been given a new lease of life in Chester with fosterer Lisa, who said: “The day he came, that was it. I was smitten. He’s a different dog now. He’s such a happy little dog. It frustrates me that he was in that situation to start with – a little old dog shouldn’t be in that situation.

“Little old dogs should be living the life Ben is living now. He’s got a comfortable bed, food when he wants it, he knows how to play me and I’m quite happy to be played by him.”

Ben is one of 8,009 dogs rescued by the RSPCA last year – which works out at almost one every hour.