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Dogs and cats both get fleas
No animals are immune from picking up or carrying fleas. Most fleas we find on cats and dogs are actually the cat flea. Unfortunately this flea is very adaptable and is quite happy to live on your dog as well. Fleas need to feed on its host animals blood to be able to lay eggs. Often people will think their dog is the only one with fleas BUT this is because dogs show more of a reaction to the flea bites, whilst it is often the cat is the culprit and has brought the fleas home. For this reason is it important to treat all the animals in the house for fleas.
The flea life cycle is the key to control
Female fleas lay eggs, these hatch into larvae which eventually pupate. Adult fleas hatch from these pupa. Only adult fleas feed off your pet.
It is hard to keep your pet free of fleas by just killing the adult fleas as you find them. A female flea can lay up to 500 eggs per year and can live for several years. These eggs fall off your pet and into the environment such as carpet, furniture and bedding. Within thirty days, 10 female fleas can multiply to a quarter of a million under ideal conditions!! However, the adult flea only accounts for a tiny part of the flea problem, 95% of the problem is the immature flea stages. The pupa stage of the flea life cycle is impossible to kill - in the early stages of a flea eradication program these pupae can remain an ongoing source of flea re-infestation as they hatch into adult fleas. The pupae can remain alive in their casing for over a year - warmth, high humidity and vibrations are what stimulate the adult flea to hatch out. This is why people often find that their house comes “alive” on returning from vacation.
A coordinated strategy is essential
Below are a series of 3 steps needed to achieve total flea control on your pets AND in your home. You must achieve all three for effective control.
- Treat the animals (Kill adult fleas)
This is to eliminate fleas on the animals. When you treat your pets - do all of them at the same time. This reduces transmission and makes it easier to remember when they were treated. The flea is not fussy whether it bites a dog or a cat (it will not bite humans unless it is very hungry and cannot find a more suitable host to feed off!!!). There are a 2 very good ‘spot’ applications which when applied to the skin on the back of the neck, will migrate around the rest of the body, making treatment easy. These products are Advantage and Frontline.
- Treat the environment (Stop fleas breeding in your home)
As mentioned above, the immature stages of the flea ( eggs and larvae ) that are hiding in the
carpet, bedding etc. accounts for 95% of the problem and will provide a continued source of hungry fleas that will re-infect your pets. You will either need to kill the larvae with an environmental control compound - Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) or ensure that any eggs laid by the adult flea are infertile using products like Program.
- Prevent Reinfestation
This can be started at the beginning of the Spring and has as primary goal to reduce the number of fleas over the warmer summer months. By starting early you will not have had the explosive increase in environmental larvae/pupae numbers before you are aware of the problem and the summer “epidemic” of fleas that happens, can then be avoided.
Older generation flea products
Please avoid older generation products like shampoos/rinses, flea collars and powders, as these are often poorly effective, lack effective long-term control and can be toxic. Some older generation topical applications, like Spotton, contain organophosphate chemicals that are not very effective, can be very toxic and absorb into your body as well as your pets.
Products we recommend
Below is a list of quality flea products currently on the market. You should always follow the instructions regards frequency and the method of application, as this will have major influence on the products effectiveness at eliminating the fleas. Often your vet might advise you to use the product in a manner other than that specified on the packet.
We recommend the use of new generation compounds as they are very effective against fleas, they have no effect on animals nor humans and are thus very safe to use.
Please read all the directions before you start and follow all precautions written on the packet.
Avantage: Is a compound that is active against the adult flea and will aid in environmental control. It begins working immediately, killing 100% of fleas in 24hrs and keeps on killing them for at least a month. Any new fleas that jump onto the pet are killed before they can lay any more eggs. This means the constant flea re-infestation of the pet’s home is rapidly reduced and the flea life cycle can be controlled. As the compound attaches to hair and skin cells it falls off the pet into the environment and will help control flea larvae that might be present where your pet spends much of its time. Advantage comes in a 4 pack of single pipettes. It is applied monthly and is one of the cheapest, safest and most effective products available for routine flea control. It is also one of the most resistant products when it comes to holding fast after shampooing the coat.
Advocate: This is effectively Advantage with the added benefit of worm control. It controls both fleas and worms from one monthly application to the skin so can be very convenient. It also helps control mites that cause ear problems and mange on the skin.
Frontline: Is a compound specifically active against adult fleas and ticks and has a wide safety margin for pets and owners. It kills 100% of fleas within 24 hours and continues killing them for 2 months in dogs and 6 weeks in cats. The secret in the compound is the unique storage and release of Fipronil. This spreads through the skin into the sebaceous glands to form a ‘reservoir’ and a small amount is continuously released onto the skin surface and hair. This provides long-lasting protection and makes it resistant to the effects of water and normal shampooing. Front-line comes in 125 & 250 ml spray bottle, or easy to apply, 3 pack of single pipettes based on the animals body weight. Frontline Plus is a later generation of the product that contains an insect growth regulator (IGR). Broadline is the latest generation containing chemicals that control fleas AND kill internal parasites (worms).
Revolution: Similar to Advocate, Revolution controls both fleas and worms from a topical application to the skin.
Program: Is a compound that gets to the source of the problem. When adult fleas bite the animal, they also take in Program. It works on the flea eggs by stopping development before they hatch. As a result, the normal build up of the flea population on the pet and in its living area is stopped. Since only 5% of the flea population are adults, Program is a powerful tool in flea control. It is important to start this product before a flea problem has developed and then to use it on the same day every month.
Program does not kill adult fleas and the use of an adultacide may also be necessary in the summer. It comes in a convenient monthly dose as a tablet for dogs and oral liquid for cats. It is also available as a 6 monthly injection for cats.
Indorex Foggers: These ‘flea bombs’ contains an IGR (insect growth regulator) that kills flea larvae for 12 months. A spray/target aerosol is also available for treating specific areas within the house such as pet’s bedding, kennel, under furniture etc. It is an ideal product to hit a stubborn environmental based flea problem.
Others – long life Seresto collars have recently become available. These contain the compound used in Advantage (see above) and can last for more than five months. The downside is that they are expensive if your cat or dog damages the collar during play or comes home without it! Capstar tablets are used to clean your pet of fleas but they don’t have a long action. They might be of some use when pets enter or leave a boarding facility to rid then of ‘hangers on’ but we prefer a product that lasts! Bravecto tablets are a long lasting alternative.
There are numerous other products on the market and new ones are being introduced all the time. The purpose of this document is to provide an over-view only and you are welcome to contact the clinic if you have any specific questions.