We all want to protect our pets against fleas and the distress and ill health they cause. With a huge range of products and remedies claiming to fight fleas, it can be difficult to know what is best for your pet. Here at Protect My Pet, we want to make flea control as easy and effective as possible.
Where should I treat?
Understanding the flea life cycle is important when implementing effective treatment and prevention. For every flea living on your pet, one hundred immature fleas will be living in your home, typically on your pet's bedding, the sofa, carpet, and cracks in wooden floors. When treating your pet for a flea infestation, it is as important to kill the fleas in their surroundings as it is to kill the fleas on their body.
• Adult female fleas can lay fifty eggs per day on your cat or dog, these eggs slide off their fur and therefore accumulate anywhere your pet spends a lot of time. Regular vacuuming will help to prevent an accumulation of fleas by removing their eggs and larvae, the pupae stage may still remain protected in a sticky cocoon.
• Washing bedding at 60° will kill the various flea life stages, remember to also wash soft toys and any blankets that might be used in the car.
• Environmental flea sprays will stop eggs and larvae from developing into adults, typically these products are effective for 12 months after each application. Use a veterinary grade product such as Acclaim, Indorex or RIP Fleas Indoor Spray.
When should I treat?
Flea infestation can occur at any time of year, with a peak in numbers during the summer and autumn months. Flea pupae need warm temperatures in order to hatch into adults, this will occur all year round inside the home. Outdoor sources of fleas become more numerous in summer and autumn as the warmer weather encourages the pupae to hatch. Wildlife such as foxes and hedgehogs act as hosts and a food source for fleas, spreading their eggs in gardens and parks, where your pet may become contaminated. We, therefore, recommend using a preventative product all year round.
Which product should I use?
There are many forms of flea killing products including topical applications, tablets, and collars. There are however a variety of efficacies within each of these categories. It is important to choose a product that is recommended by veterinarians, some of these products will only be available with a prescription.
Topical flea treatments, like Frontline and Advantage, should be applied between the shoulder blades, where it is difficult for your pet to lick. Take care that pets do not groom each other immediately after application. The active ingredient spreads across the body, ensuring that all the skin is protected, right down to the tip of your pet's tail. It is important to remember that getting wet within 48 hours of application will reduce the effectiveness of the product, so no baths or swimming should be allowed during this time.
Why might my flea treatment fail?
The most common reasons for continued flea infestation despite treatment are:
• Using a poor quality flea treatment product
• Product has been applied incorrectly or the interval between applications is longer than recommended.
• Topical product has been washed off within 48 hours of application
• Home environment is acting as a reservoir for reinfection
• Not all in-contact animals have been treated for fleas, this includes cats, dogs, rabbits and ferrets.
Flea Allergic Dermatitis
Flea saliva can act be an allergen to some cats and dogs. An individual that has previously been bitten by a flea can become sensitised to flea saliva and an allergic reaction then occurs to new flea bites. Flea allergies can occur in any breed or gender but is unlikely to occur in puppies and kittens less than 3 months old.
Whilst flea bites are irritating for all animals, those with an allergic hypersensitivity will show an exaggerated itchy response to the presence of fleas. These animals may have hair loss and broken, thickened skin due to self-inflicted trauma, often on the lower spine and tail base.
Dogs will occasionally show large areas of acute moist dermatitis, or 'hot spots'; these occur due to secondary infection in the areas of broken skin. These 'hot spots' may require a course of antibiotics to heal.
Cats with a flea allergy may show lesions on their head and neck, as well as their lower back and thighs. Owners often miss the signs of itchy skin in cats as they tend to over-groom rather than show the classic scratching with their hindlimbs.
Animals with a flea allergy should be seen by a veterinarian during any acute flare-up. It is very important that these pets are protected against any contact with fleas by the strict implementation of the flea preventative measures discussed above; regular application of a quality flea product, regular treatment of all in-contact animals and treating the environment.
Protect My Pet
Here at Protect My Pet we want you to be confident in your flea control. Using only veterinary recommended, market leading flea treatment products, we ensure your pet receives the correct dose at the correct time, helping you to protect your pet.
Written by Lindsay Rose MA VetMB CertAVP CertVBM MRCVS.