The Spring has sprung and it is set to be a bumper flea season! So arm yourself with the latest flea products before the bugs bite and make sure that the only guests in house are the ones you have invited! Below is a simplified flea life story as it is important to understand how the flea lives and breeds before choosing the appropriate products.
IN THE BEGINNING …FLEA OR EGG?
We will start with the adult female flea as she lays her eggs. Once an adult flea has found a host animal (i.e.; our dog or cat) it will remain on it for its entire life. Our female flea takes a blood meal from its host animal almost immediately after settling in and will mate within the next 8-24 hours. She will begin egg laying 24-48 hours after mating and will lay an average of 27 eggs per day. Most of her egg laying is done at night when the host animal is resting in his basket or on the end of your bed!
ONCE LAID, THE EGGS FALL OFF THE ANIMAL INTO AN ENVIROMENT THAT IT IS CERTAIN TO RETURN TO. THEREFORE, THE FEMALE FLEA HAS ENSURED THAT HER OFFSRING WILL HAVE FOOD.
EGGS = LARVAE = PUPAE = FLEA
Flea eggs are pearly white and are visible to the naked eye. They fall off the host animal within approximately two hours of being laid and once in the environment are only susceptible to severe climate changes. When fully developed the flea larvae hatch out. These look like tiny maggots and feed on organic debris particularly flea faeces (flea dirt). They hide away from light and may creep under furniture when possible, although they do not have the ability to move far. The flea larvae moult twice then spin a cocoon and pupate.
In the safety of its cocoon, the pre adult flea waits for optimum survival conditions before it will hatch. Cocoons are covered with a sticky substance, which soon picks up environmental debris, and find it especially comfortable to wait out their time in the base of your carpet, dark recesses of your wooden floors or under furniture that is seldom moved. In this state, the cocoon can survive for considerable periods of time i.e.; months until it is stimulated by the presence of carbon dioxide or a change in pressure or temperature.
Once hatched the adult flea will live for approximately 113 days but cannot live for more than 20 days without a blood meal.
1 FLEA = 27 EGGS/DAY X 113 = 3051 FLEAS IN LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS!
Flea saliva contains a complex array of chemicals which allows the flea to successfully take its blood meal while evading the host animals defence mechanisms. The most common flea related disease in dogs and cats is FLEA ALLERGic DERMATITIS, which is caused by a hypersensitive reaction to flea saliva. The flea also acts as the intermediate host to the common tapeworm – DIPYLIDIUM CANINUM.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
ATTACK THE ENVIRONMENT!
VACUUM CARPETS AND WASH PET BEDDING REGULARLY.
Vacuuming removes up to 20% of flea larvae and 32-51% of eggs. Plus it removes debris and flea faeces, which is the larval food source.
DON’T! Shampoo or steam clean carpets – this is not recommended
The residual humidity is ideal for hatching and larval development.
Also fumigating or using expensive environmental products before going away on holiday is not advised because fleas are sensitive to environmental vibrations and changes in carbon dioxide levels which stimulate them to hatch. The chances are that when you come back so will the fleas!
Use pet friendly ,environmental flea sprays to spray bedding, carpets and under furniture.
TREAT YOUR PET!
Things to consider before purchasing your flea treatment:
how bad is the flea problem? You may need to start with a combination of products including environmental insecticides to get on top of your pets fleas.
does your dog swim ? If so, choose a product that will withstand your dog being wet .
will your pet tolerate a collar?
how easy is it to dose your pet or apply spot treatments?
how good are you in remembering to treat your pet every month?
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons flea treatments fail is the pet owner forgets to continue treatment ! The months go by so quickly it is not always easy to keep up with things, which is why some of the new products can be a great help.
Below are some of the most effective products available on the market .
- active ingredient indoxacarb that was specifically developed to overcome insect resistance
- uses enzymes inside the flea to activate it .
Indoxacarb has not been used for flea control before.
It is effective at killing adult and developing stages of fleas
no known resistance – yet!
4 weeks of efficacy against adult fleas on the pet and developing stages of fleas in the pet’s environment
spot on treatment
safe for dogs and cats from 8 weeks of age or more than specified weight
waterproof and remains effective after shampooing and bathing
does NOT kill ticks
active ingredient afoxolaner
oral systemic treatment
tick and flea control for 1 month
safe for pups 8wks and older
dogs can swim
NOT FOR USE IN CATS
safety in pregnant or lactating bitches has not been tested
active ingredient Fluralaner
Fluralaner is a potent inhibitor of parts of the arthropod nervous system
kills adult as well as juvenile ticks (larvae, nymphs).
Newly emerged fleas on a dog are killed before viable eggs are produced.
acts systemically so dog can be bathed and can swim
safe for puppies over 8 weeks old
NOT FOR USE IN CATS
LASTS FOR 12 WEEKS
Can be used in breeding, pregnant and lactating dogs.
imidacloprid & Flumethrin
pevents tick and flea infestation for 8 months
repells ticks and fleas immediately
frequent swimming or shampooing should be avoided
safe for use in cats over 10 weeks old
safe for puppies over 7 weeks old
safety in pregnant or lactating animals has not been tested.
Frontline is an effective adulticide that kills the adult flea and stops the development of the immature flea.
It is applied to the animal monthly, either as a spray or in a spot treatment.
The adulticide dissolves into the sebum covering of the coat and skin and the intercellular lipid of the epidermis. Concentration occurs in the sebaceous glands thus it is released with normal sebaceous secretions.
It takes approximately 24- 48 hours to spread over the animal and once the product has spread
remains active despite weekly bathing.
Adult fleas may be seen on the animal during treatment but should die within 24 hours of contact with Frontline Plus.
Frontline Plus is also effective against ticks.
It is safe to use on pregnant and nursing animals
safe on puppies and kittens over 8 week of age.
If you are not sure what product is best for your pet chat to your vet for advice.