There is a bewildering number of flea treatments available these days from flea traps through to expensive POM products that can only be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon.
Understanding the problem (or know your enemy)
In any population of fleas only about 5% will be in the adult form. Of the remainder about 10% are larvae (immature fleas) and pupae while the vast majority 85% is present as eggs.
Adult fleas, which are dark brown and about 2 to 4mm long, jump onto our pets, bite them and suck blood from their skin. These bites cause irritation and make our pets scratch. After feeding, the flea lays eggs that drop off into the carpets and soft furnishings. Each flea lays about 200 eggs. The eggs hatch out into larvae that live in the carpets and soft furnishings while they develop into adult fleas.
Eggs, larvae and pupae can be carried around the house on the soles of our shoes. On becoming adult the fleas jump onto our pets and bite them and the cycle begins again. In our campaign against the flea we therefore have two battles to fight. The first against the adult fleas. The second against the huge numbers of eggs, larvae and pupae found in the environment.
Killing the adult fleas (adulticides)
Frontline spot-on – a safe, effective product which is easy to apply. A liquid is squeezed on to the back of the pet’s neck from where it spreads over the whole of the skin surface. 98% of the adult fleas will be killed before having a chance to bite. One dose is effective for up to 5 weeks in cats and 2 months in dogs.
Frontline spray (pump action) – contains the same active ingredient as the spot-on formulation and is thus equally as effective. It can also be used on very young puppies and kittens. It may be more difficult to apply as the whole pet needs to be wetted with the spray for it to be effective. One application is effective for up to 2 months in cats and 3 months in dogs.
Revolution spot-on – another effective product that is applied to the back of the pet’s neck from where it spreads over the whole of the skin surface. 98% of the adult fleas will be killed before having a chance to bite. Applied on a monthly basis.
Flea collars, shampoos, powders and foams are also available but are often found to be not as effective as the products mentioned above.
NB – only one adulticide product can be used on an animal at any one time.
Killing eggs, larvae and pupae and removing the infestation from the house
Household sprays – (NOT to be used on pets). These sprays kill eggs, larvae and adult fleas in the environment. The whole house, carpets, soft furnishings and curtains need to be sprayed to eradicate any infestation. Although effective they may not be very pleasant to use. Fish and birds must be removed from the room before spraying, as they are very toxic to these. It is very important to follow the directions on the can. Ask your regular pesticide/insecticide treatment agency to throw some light on this
Because no single product is more than 98% effective it is important to treat the pet and the environment simultaneously.