Veterinarians aren’t the only ones who have to fight the flea infestation. As a veterinary nurse, I get asked many questions each day but none so often as about fleas. I see worried clients and itchy pets frequently visit the hospital for advice and treatment to get rid of these small but annoying critters. So I’ve put together some information to give you an understanding to the life cycle of a flea and how as owners we can get on top of this itchy problem.
Fleas love our pets and use them as a host in order to take a blood meal….yuck!
Prolific breeders, once a flea has had a good old feed she will start to deposit eggs into the environment, with 100 being laid every 24 hours.
These eggs will hatch into little larvae and eventually pupate form a cocoon. These sticky cocoons can live in our carpets and floorboards for a considerable amount of time until the conditions are right to hatch.
Nobody likes fleas. Not your pets, not you and certainly not veterinarians and vet nurses. But we all have to work together to keep your pet’s flea free.
So here’s some advice from veterinarians and vet nurses on how to ensure fleas aren’t a problem for your pet.
The right conditions for a flea epidemic
As veterinarians and vet nurses working in Sydney, we know fleas love a good host. And the host needed is your cat or dog. The vibrations of your pet walking and the carbon dioxide they breathe out is a wake up alarm to an epidemic of hungry fleas. They also love warm, humid conditions and thrive during the Sydney summer.
Fleas cause lots of problems for our pets. Some animals are allergic to flea saliva, and can break out in big welts and itchy sore skin. The constant scratching of the skin by claws causes considerable damage to the epidermis layer, giving way to secondary infections. Large infestations in puppies or kittens can be fatal as the flea will literally suck the blood out of your pet. And imagine having to scratch day and night to get relief; serious flea infestations can lead to insomnia and depression as a result.
With 95% of the flea population living in our environment such as carpets, floor boards, pet bedding and soft furnishing, environmental control is just as important in eradicating the problem as treating the pet itself.
So let’s start with your pet. There are lots of products on the market that claim to kill fleas, however not all of them are particularly safe or have a great efficacy. At Fox Valley Animal Hospital we use the most up-to-date, safest products that work quickly and effectively.
FLEA TREATMENT FOR DOGS –
(Veterinarians warning: never use dog products on cats as they may contain PERMETHRIN that is toxic and can be fatal)
Advantix – applied every fortnight for paralysis ticks or monthly for flea control. This is a spot-on application that is easy to use and works very well against ticks and fleas.
Frontline – also a spot-on product, we usually advise to use this if you have mixed dog/cat households where the pet’s sleep or groom each other, as it is not toxic to cats if they come into contact with it. Used fortnightly for ticks or monthly for fleas.
Comfortis – an oral tablet given every month to control fleas only. Has a very good efficacy and can be used in conjunction with a spot-on to kill paralysis ticks. I like this product and have found it’s worked really well with my own dog, Toby.
Nexgard – the newest product to hit Australian veterinary hospitals and we are all really excited as it is the first oral medication that kills both fleas and the dreaded paralysis tick. It is given once a month and there is no risk of it washing off your pet or causing toxicity to the household cat if he wants a doggy snuggle.
FLEA TREATMENTS FOR CATS –
Our veterinarians stock a wide variety of flea treatments for your cat.
Comfortis– this is now licensed for the use in cats and we have had very good feedback from clients in its efficacy against fleas only.
Revolution– once a month spot-on for fleas only. Will also kill eggs and larvae plus protect against a whole range of nasties such as heartworm, ear mites and most intestinal worms. This product is also licensed to treat rabbits and ferrets against fleas.
Advocate– monthly spot-on for fleas and their eggs/larvae. This product is very easy to use and can be applied every 2-4 weeks for flea control.
Frontline– spot-on used fortnightly for some tick prevention and monthly for fleas only. Frontline spray is very effective in cats for tick control if used fortnightly. We are happy to always apply this for you at the animal hospital as spraying kitty is sometimes easier said than done!
When applying all the flea products it’s important to read the enclosed information written by the drug companies in consultation with veterinarians. Some products can be harmful or even fatal if applied to the wrong pet. I tend to apply my spot-on before bedtime to give the active ingredient time to disperse before any little people in my house touch our dog. Most the spot-on products do leave a oily substance on the coat for a few days, this however is normal.
Environmental control –
Whenever you treat your pet it’s paramount you also treat the environment.
This means washing your pet’s bedding and hanging it in the sun if possible. Fleas and flea eggs hate the sun.
Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum the house and concentrate on the areas used by your pet!
Steam mop the floors – this is great for wooden floor boards.
House hold sprays such as INDOREX are very good at killing all life stages of the fleas in your house. Use with caution around cats as it contains Permethrin which can be toxic to kittys.
Some useful tips to remember from our veterinarians–
Don’t be lured into a false sense of security over winter thinking you have the flea problem under control. Remember one flea can lay 700 eggs a week that will lie and wait for the ideal conditions before hatching in epidemic numbers. Use all year round flea protection; don’t wait to beat the problem.
Don’t wash your pet a day or two before or after applying flea spot-ons. The products work much more effectively on a dirtier animal due to the build up of oils in the skin.
Don’t forget to empty your vacuum after a big flea killing session as they will continue to live in there!
Treat all the animals at the same time regardless whether you think they have fleas, this way you can ensure all round protection for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to contact the manufactures of the products you are using for extra advice – in some cases they will visit your home to help you get the problem under control.
Help is there if you need it
Last but not least come in and see us, don’t wait to book an appointment with our veterinarians and vet nursing team. Our friendly vet nurses are up-to-date with the latest flea products and full of solutions to help you and your pet. We can tailor a treatment plan to eradicate fleas from your pet and your home. We stock the most effective products that have been proven to work. Don’t let fleas get the better of you, with time and the correct treatments you can beat them.
Really struggling? Our vet nurses and veterinarians are only a phone call away on (02) 9489 4805.