My dogs got Fleas, so how can I get rid of fleas on my pet...
3rd May 2012
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Top tips from the Pet Experts at Rainsbrook Vets.

How to get rid of fleas from my pet?

It is damp, it is humid, it is perfect weather for fleas. Pet owners out there, and even non-pet owners, it is a good idea to have some knowledge of fleas, their life cycle, and what to do about them.

Fleas are parasites that feed off blood, and can make life miserable for pets and their owners. They cause intense itching and scratching which can result in hair loss. Some pets are allergic to flea saliva which causes a very common and unpleasant skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Fleas are also carriers of tapeworms.

1 in 5 cats and 1 in 10 dogs have fleas, and fleas multiply fast!! Just one female flea can lay 50 eggs a day, so in 21 days one flea could multiple to become 1000!

Fleas rarely jump from one pet to another. if you think about it, why leave a perfectly good host who has lots of lovely blood to drink by risking moving elsewhere?! Cats and dogs pick fleas up from infested environments: your garden, the local park, a friend's house - any place where an animal that has fleas, such as rabbits, hedgehogs, foxes or another cat or dog, may be found. These infested animals drop flea eggs behind wherever they go and these eggs either develop producing an adult flea that is attracted to warmth, carbon dioxide and virbation, or stick onto things and are carried everywhere and develop later.

Should you treat against fleas if your pets do not go outside? The answer is yes, because you go outside. We can traipse flea eggs around with our shoes, and these eggs can end up anywhere. These eggs hatch into larvae which proceed to move away from the light, deep into the pile of your carpets and furnishings and even cracks in skirting boards, hardwood floors and laminate floors, they will be happy anywhere. These larvae spin cocoons, and inside these they develop - these are called pupae, and it is this stage of the flea cycle that is quite amazing. The pupae can sit dormant for years, waiting for the warmth, the vibration and the carbon dioxide of a potential host, and as soon as they detect it they will hatch in less than a second and a fully formed adult flea emerges. Less than a second! Unbelieveable. We will talk more about these pupae later as this stage has an enormous effect on how we treat infestations.

So, what do you do? You need to use a product that prevents and kill fleas on all pets in the household. There is no point just treating your cat but leaving your dog. There will be fleas in the environment which will use your dog as a host aswell, so remember, treat ALL your pets.

Which product? For convenience there are 'spot on' products that are easy to use, and you just apply to the back of the neck of your pet. You do not need to bath in flea shampoos, or use pet sprays or flea powder. A quality product will do the job (if you follow the application instructions!) The first place you should turn to for flea treatment should be your vet. They will advise you on the various products that are available and point you in the right direction.

Well known makes of flea products which are available without prescription (from chemists, pet stores and online pharmacies) contain the active ingrdient fipronil (Frontline, Fiprospot) or imidacloprid (Advantage). These active ingredients are licensed for use in pets, are safe and are incredibly efficient and effective. Prescription Only products are also available, such as Frontline Combo, which has an additional active ingredient (S)-Methoprene (an insect growth regulator) which helps prevent the infestation of your home.

So, you are dealing with an infestation. Use a quality flea product on ALL your pets. If you are suffering from a severe infestation, you will need to treat your pets for at least 4 months to bring the flea population under control. You need to regularly vacuum your carpets ,furnishings, skirting boards and cracks in floorboards etc and wash your pet's bedding above 60 degrees celcius. This vacuuming is important in a number of ways. Firstly it physically removes eggs, larvae and pupae form the environment and secondly, it encourages the pupae to hatch. No insecticide can kill pupae. Nothing at all. So all you can do is remove them from the environment by physically removing them, or forcing them to hatch into adult fleas which will then be effected by the quality product you are using on your pets. That is why it is so important to continue to treat your pets for an number of months after the first sign of an infesation, it is going to take time to get rid of all the pupae resident in your home!

You will need to use an environmental spray which contain a insect growth regulator. Most decent household sprays contain permethrin as the adulticide and methoprene as the insect growth regulator. These sprays are available from your vets and from online chemists. The instructions for application must be followed correctly to ensure effective use.

Allow your pets everywhere! A lot of people will confine their pets to one room of the house once they have a flea infestation. Once you pet has been treated by a quality spot on product, they are going to be a flea killing machine! Continue to let them have access to everywhere, so as the remaining pupae hatch, the adult fleas will then jump onto your pet coming into contact with the insecticide and will then be killed. 

You must not get downhearted when you continue to see fleas after treating your pets and your home, it is normal, and can take a bit of time to get a severe flea infesataion under control. New adult fleas continue to hatch from the pupae in the home environment and as soon as they come into contact with the flea product you are using on your pet, they should be killed within 24 hours. 

At Rainsbrook Vets in Rugby, we use the pet spot-on treatment Frontline Combo because it has the second active ingredient, the insect growth regulator, which prevents the development of eggs and larvae - helping to keep your home free of a full blown flea infesatation. We use Acclaim Household Flea Spray, which has a large area coverage (average four bedroom house), and when used as directed, is safe for the family, the home and your pets. It also has the added bonus of kililng house-dust mites, ants, cockroaches, ticks and spiders.

For May and June we partipating in National Flea Months where if you purchase a 3 pack of Frontline Combo you get 1 pipette free, or if you buy a 6 pack you get 2 pipettes free. Please remember, Frontline Combo is a prescription only medicine, due to that additional insect growth regulating ingredient, so you pet will have needed to have been examined by one of our vets or nurses within the last 12 months. Our nurses run free nurse clinics at our Hillmorton surgery, so if you wish to make an appointment to come in and have your pet flea checked, call 01788 542221 and make an appointment! 

About the Author

Stacey H

Member since: 8th July 2012

I am the Accounts and Facilities Manager at Rainsbrook Veterinary Group which has branches in Rugby and Leamington Spa. I have worked at this vets for 10 years, and am very passionate about the service...

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