Flea Control and Prevention - Plain Facts about Fleas

FACT:

One flea lays 50 eggs per day. That’s 1500 eggs in ONE MONTH!

A flea’s eggs are NOT sticky! They fall off your pet as they walk around and wherever your pet lays. If your pet sleeps with you, then yes, you and your pet are sleeping with the enemy… flea eggs and flea maggots!

Facts About FleasThe Life Cycle of  a Flea

Once the flea egg hatches, a larva is born, it’s actually a tiny maggot (yep, quite probably in your bed). That flea maggot doesn’t like the light so it finds it’s way to places that are dark. Places like deep in your carpeting, under and in your furniture, bedding and along the baseboards. In fact, baseboards are fleas favorite path of travel.

The Pupa Stage

The flea maggot will then become a cocoon. We call this the pupa stage. That cocoon is like an impenetrable tank. NOTHING KILLS IT! The cocoon sits there harmless until either your dog, cat or YOU walk by. Fleas prefer your pets over you. So, if you see a flea on you, that means that there are A LOT of fleas, maggots, and cocoons in your house.

The only way to reduce the cocoon is to remove it. Vacuuming and washing bedding can and does help. However, you must be diligent and immediately remove the contents from the vacuum. Place the contents in a plastic garbage bag, tye the bag into a tight knot and remove the bag from your home. Otherwise, the fleas will simply escape the vacuum and re-enter your home.

Young, Healthy and Hungry

Fleas are the VAMPIRE of the insect world. A young, healthy, hungry flea jumps onto your pet and feeds on it’s blood IMMEDIATELY!  Flea biology is amazing…they reproduce rapidly with LOTS of babies in a very short period of time and they develop resistance relatively quickly. They thrive in warm humid temperatures. Florida is like a happy sauna for fleas, they LOVE our state! Unlike northern states with cold winters to assist with natural flea control, fleas can survive in Florida year round.

“MY PET DOESN’T HAVE FLEAS!” (and why this may not be true)

Fleas are flat and very good at hiding. Tell tale signs that your pet (and your home) may very well have fleas if….

  • Your pet is scratching more than normal. Dogs develop an itchy rash or hair loss, usually anywhere on the back half of their body, rump, back of the legs, stomach area
  • Look for tiny black specks hiding in your pets fur, especially on their rump right in front of the tail. It looks like PEPPER… that’s FLEA POOP (flea dirt). Don’t believe me? Take some of that black “dirt” and rub it on a wet cotton ball or paper towel. If it smears as a dark red smudge….that’s your pet’s blood and that’s Flea poop. If it doesn’t smear, that’s plain ole dirt.

If you see ONE speck of flea dirt on your pet, you can bet the adult is hiding somewhere else. So….you now have a bona fide flea problem! If you choose to deny this, give it time, more will come!

FLEAS CAUSE HARM TO YOUR PET!

TAPEWORMS: Pets are very good at killing their own fleas initially, by scratching them or eating them. Some fleas carry parasites of their own. Tapeworms are transmitted to your dog or cat through fleas. Tapeworms are ugly, white, rice like segments that you may see in your pet’s feces or hanging out on the hair of their rear ends.

FLEA ALLERGY DERMATITIS: It’s the saliva of the flea your pet is allergic to. If your pet is not allergic, they won’t scratch and can be loaded with fleas. However, if your pet is severely allergic, ONE FLEA can cause severe misery, incessant scratching, hot spots, skin rash/infection, scabs and hair loss. Cats may develop little tiny scabs all over their body.

ANEMIA: Fleas are mini BLOOD SUCKERS causing blood loss. A large enough infestation can cause weakness and sometimes death in puppies, kittens and even small dogs and cats.

INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Hemobartonella and Cytauxzoan are nasty transmissible parasites that can be fatal! Ever heard of Bubonic plague? Fleas were responsible and there have been some recent outbreaks!

HOW TO KILL FLEAS:

The answer to resolving a flea infestation is to BREAK THE LIFE CYCLE! REMEMBER: If you see ONE FLEA, there are at least 50 eggs, per every day, that flea has been in YOUR HOME!

Some of the best preventatives and treatment are the monthly Flea Control pills or topical applications.

PILLS

Facts About Fleas - Bravecto Flea PreventionOur favorite flea and tick preventive and treatment for dogs is BRAVECTO. It is a pill that is safe and effective and it lasts for 3 months and it has been FDA approved for pregnant dogs. It does not cover Heartworm, so your pet would still need their monthly heartworm preventative. At this time, Bravecto is by prescription only.

Comfortis is a monthly by prescription only, flea pill and is very effective for fleas only (not ticks), for both dogs and cats. It may cause stomach upset in some dogs and cannot to be used in dogs with seizure disorders (epilepsy).

Nexguard is a monthly prescription pill for ticks and fleas.

Capstar works fast and can be used daily to every other day.

TOPICALS

DO NOT confuse the newer safer topicals for the older insecticide spot ons which are not as effective with many toxic side effects.

For topicals, we recommend Frontline Plus and Advantage II. Both are monthly spot-ons and can be purchased over the counter without a prescription at any retail store that carries pet products. Their disadvantage is that bathing the pet can reduce the effectiveness and may not always last the entire 30 days.

Any topical flea control can cause adverse reactions, it is better to consult with your veterinarian before using any spot-on treatment. Most adverse reactions are due to improper use.

WORD OF CAUTION:

Advantage II is NOT the same as ADVANTIX.

ADVANTIX is effective for both ticks and fleas and is for DOGS ONLY. DO NOT use Advantix on your cat/s or allow your cat/s to have contact with dog/s that have received a recent application of Advantix.

Program and Sentinel work not by killing fleas but by damaging the flea eggs that are laid so they will never hatch. Although the newer generic knock offs of these spot-ons are less expensive, we also find they are less effective. However, if it comes down to price, they are still better than the older toxic versions.

Revolution and Advantage Multi are topical spot-ons that are very effective for cat fleas, effective for heartworm preventative and are available by prescription only. We find that Revolution tends to be a good preventative for dogs but may not be as effective for existing infestations.

FLEA COLLARS AND SHAMPOOS

Most Flea collars are generally not very effective. Seresto is a new generation flea collar that we recommend and is effective for up to 8 months for fleas.

Flea shampoos, flea powders, flea sprays and flea bombs generally are not as effective and can be toxic to certain pets.
ALWAYS use all flea control remedies properly and according to the instructions, especially when it comes to puppies, kittens, seniors and ill pets. Even “natural” flea remedies can be harmful if not used properly and we think of these more as weak preventatives and not treatments.

This list of flea controls are not all inclusive and if you have questions about ANY flea control….we are more than happy to help!

HOME ENVIRONMENT FLEA CONTROL and PREVENTION!

JUST as important!

  • Frequent vacuuming, even hard surface floors as flea maggots like to crawl to the baseboards.
  • Wash ALL bedding frequently!
  • Clean out overgrown areas and flower beds outside. Wild life and feral cats are sources of flea eggs, maggots and adult fleas. The get into your home without your pet ever going outside!
  • FLEA BUSTERS is a borate carpet powder that can be used to kill fleas in the home.
  • DO NOT USE garlic as some pets are sensitive and too much is toxic causing a fatal anemia.
  • DO NOT USE diatomaceous earth powder on your pet…not only is it not effective but if inhaled causes SEVERE respiratory disease.

Patience and persistence is key. It can take up to 3 months to completely eliminate ALL life cycles of the flea from the home.

Please feel free to consult us here at Animal Health Veterinary Clinic with any questions. We can help with even the toughest flea infestation!