Fleas are parasites that your animal can pick up from other cats or dogs or from environments where other cats and dogs have been. It pays to be vigilant against fleas, as once your animal has them, they can breed quickly, and their eggs may survive in the environment for 6 months or more. A few fleas can turn into many very quickly. If a cat or dog has a lot of fleas, it may become anaemic through blood loss. The animal will usually chew, lick or scratch, causing damage to its skin and hair. An allergy to the flea saliva may develop over time, creating an itch far worse that that caused by a flea bite, leading to hair loss and skin inflammation along the back and around the tail base.
Unless your pet lives in total isolation it is susceptible to developing a flea infestation. There are plenty of great anti-flea products available on the market, that should prevent a problem developing or treat an animal that does have fleas. These products include top spots, sprays, tablets and injections. Their modes of action vary, some interrupt the life cycle by preventing the eggs from hatching or preventing the fleas from developing (insect growth regulators or IGRs). Others concentrate on the fleas’ environment, others kill the fleas on the pet itself (adulticide). The best products have residual activity (they work for a period of time, like one month or a number of months), so we recommend these over the old-fashioned flea shampoos or powders. The gold standard for flea control is to use both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator. This combinationis the best way to deal withna bad flea problem or in an animal that is very sensitive to fleas.
Controlling fleas is an important part of the health care for your pet. If you get it right, your animal should be much happier and healthier.
Fleas are an important year round pest in the greater Sydney area. Adult fleas are not only a nuisance to people and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworms, secondary bacterial skin infections and in extreme cases anaemia.
Why is flea control necessary?
Many animals carry fleas, some are allergic to the flea saliva and react with intense itchiness. In dogs they often chew around the tail base region whilst cats often over groom or get small crusty sores along their back. Some animals are only slightly worried by their fleas and act as a reservoir for fleas and flea eggs.
Do I treat all animals in the household?
Yes! All cats and dogs in a household should be treated for fleas and continue all year round. Although you may not see fleas on the cat because they groom well and can keep the flea numbers low, each flea can produce up to 40-50 eggs per day. Even one flea on an animal will contaminate the property and fleas will continue developing.
Where do the fleas come from?
Although dogs and cats do pick up “hitch hiker fleas” when they go for walks, most of the fleas come from your own property where the animal lies or digs etc. 95% of fleas are the juvenile forms and are not actually on the animal. The eggs are very slippery and fall out of the coat readily; they then hatch to larvae, and then pupate and then hatch to adults who jump back onto the animal.
Some flea products are designed to kill adults on the animal; whilst others actively prevent fleas from developing or the eggs from hatching. If you have a bad flea problem, or a very sensitive animal, you may need to treat both the animal (to kill adult fleas) and the environment (to stop further fleas developing).
Which flea products do we recommend?
Kills adult fleas. Has tick control activity, this is still considered the “gold standard” in flea control.
Advantages – Very effective product, can be used on cats and dogs, puppies from 2 days old and kittens from 6 weeks of age.
Disadvantages – Most cats dislike sprays. You must wet the whole animal’s skin and coat. In long coated animals this becomes expensive because of the amount used.
Frequency of application– monthly for ticks, about 6 weekly for fleas.
Top Spot Kills adult fleas and eggs, prevents larvae and pupae from developing.
Useful for tick control if used fortnightly.
Advantages – Quite effective.
Can be used on dogs and cats from 8 weeks of age. Will remain on the skin despite bathing or swimming. Very easy application.
Disadvantages – You may still have some fleas surviving for a number of hours after getting on the animal, especially if the product was applied a number of weeks earlier.
Frequency of application– fortnightly for ticks and monthly for fleas.
Kills adult fleas and helps control larval development in the environment.
Advantages – Quite effective.
Can be used on dogs and cats from weaning age. Very easy application.
Disadvantages – Will tend to wash off if the animal is bathed or swims regularly. Offers no tick control.
Frequency of application– Monthly
Kills adult fleas
Advantages – Will not wash off with bathing or swimming as it is absorbed internally. Can be used in both dogs and cats from 6 weeks of age.
Very easy application.
In dogs it is also effective for heartworm control, sarcoptic mange and ear mites.
In cats, it also treats roundworms, hookworms, heartworm and ear mites.
Disadvantages – Not effective against ticks.
Frequency of application– Monthly
(Do Not Use on Cats)
Kills adult fleas and ticks.
Advantages – Very effective and inexpensive.
Disadvantages – Requires dilution and applying to the whole dog. Cannot be used in cats.
Frequency of application– Can be used weekly as a rinse or daily as a spray.
A tablet that kills adult fleas on the animal in about 20 minutes.
Advantages – Kills fleas very rapidly. Very useful if the animal has a lot of fleas and is going into a clean environment.
Disadvantages – Only lasts for 24-48 hours. Long-term use is expensive.
Frequency of application– As required.
A monthly tablet that causes paralysis and death in fleas. Fleas do not live long enough to breed.
Advantages – not affected by swimming or bathing. Effects seen from 30 minutes.
Disadvantages – can not be given to puppies under 14 weeks of age.
ONLY for DOGS. Use with caution in dogs with epilepsy, breeding animals and animals receiving treatment for demodecosis.
A preparation that stops flea eggs from hatching but does not kill adult fleas. A tablet for dogs and cats may have either an oral suspension or an injection given each 6 months.
Advantages – It is easily administered and is a way of stopping environmental contamination if fleas are present.
Disadvantages – There has been some resistance to this product and so it does not work in all households. To be effective it must be used on all flea-carrying animals.
This is a combination of two products, lufurenon (Program*) and milbemycin(Interceptor*).
Advantages – A monthly chewy for dogs that prevents heartworm and controls roundworm, hookworm and whipworm. It also prevents flea eggs from hatching.
Disadvantages – Like program, it does not kill adult fleas.
Speak to one of our staff about the best flea prevention or treatment for your pet.