Fleas are most often seen during the warmer months but as we keep our homes nice and warm throughout winter, we see fleas all year round. Only a small part of the adult flea population actually lives on your pet. The fleas’ eggs and larvae live in the environment and can survive for up to a year, so it is important to not only treat your animal directly for fleas but also decontaminate the environment as well.
How to kill/prevent fleas
- Most flea products kill adult fleas and stop them laying eggs, but none work instantly. In fact most take around 8-24 hours to kill each flea that jumps on your pet. If you are relying on a flea shampoo, collar or one of those cheap top-spots in the supermarket, you are wasting your time and money too!
Fleas lay 50 eggs each day, so even being a few days late with your flea prevention is all it takes to accumulate a collection of flea eggs. Not all flea eggs hatch at once, they can last for months in the environment. Those flea eggs will will gradually hatch over the following months and come back to haunt you!
- Bathing more frequently than weekly can strip top-spot flea products from your pet’s skin and hair. If your pet swims, consider switching to a flavoured chew like Bravecto.
- Wash your pet’s bedding using the hottest cycle (over 60ºC for more than 10 minutes). Do a good wash of anything your dog sleeps on every week. It is not enough to just wash the cover of the bed as the fleas will burrow down into a mattress or foam. Trampoline dog beds are excellent, flea resistant beds for bigger dogs. For smaller dogs, use a nice machine-washable bed.
- Regularly vacuum/clean carpets. Pay particular attention to areas within a few metres of your pet’s bed. We do not recommend flea collars or flea shampoos alone as they fail to address the environmental flea infestation.
- If your pet does have fleas it is important to decontaminate your house. Use a flea bomb for every single room in the house, but make sure to vacuum first to get rid of any particles of dust that might protect the flea larvae from the bomb. The flea bomb will only reach those areas where the mist settles. Under the bed and under furniture may need to be treated separately with a hand-held flea spray like Black Raid or Purple Mortein.
Signs that your pet has fleas include:
- Scratching, biting and hair loss, especially at the base of the tail and rump
- You may see fleas (especially over the rump and in the groin region)
- It can be difficult to find the fleas, but is relatively easy to check for flea dirt. Simply moisten a cotton ball, part your pet’s fur and place the cotton ball on the skin over the rump. If the cotton ball takes on black specs surrounded by a reddish area, this may be flea dirt and can indicate that your pet has fleas.
Fleas will tend to jump onto your pet only to feed and then jump off again. Dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis or FAD. Treatment of FAD can be complicated and veterinary consultation is recommended.
Warning: Some non-veterinary brands of flea treatments for dogs are potentially lethal when applied to cats. Always seek veterinary advice about the best flea treatments for your pet.
Please call us to discuss an appropriate flea control program for your pet.