Fleas are the most common pest to bother our pets and drive pet owners crazy.
Controlling and eradicating fleas takes vigilance and continual compliance, even when you think the flea problem is under control. Only 5% of the flea population is easily seen, as 95% of the population is still in the egg, larvae and pupae stages.
The flea life-cycle consists of four stages, egg, larva, pupa and adult and can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years to be completed. Understanding the life-cycle is important in learning how to control and eradicate fleas. The adult flea is responsible for biting and irritating your pet when it is feeding on their blood. They also have a great jumping ability which makes it easy for them to transfer from pet to pet. The adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which can then fall off your pet and into the carpet, bedding and gardens. These eggs then take two days to a couple of weeks to hatch out into larva. The larvae will undergo three larval stages, taking 5 to 18 days and then weave a cocoon. The pupae stage can last up to a year with the adult flea becoming developed within 1-2 weeks but it can stay inside until the environmental conditions are right for it to emerge. Once the adult flea emerges the life cycle begins again with the adult feeding and looking to reproduce.
In order to successfully control or eradicate fleas you need to treat, control and eradicate all stages of the lifecycle. There are many products that you apply to your pet to break the flea lifecycle however you may also need to take action in your pet’s surroundings and environment to control the fleas. Just make sure when selecting any product to use that it is safe for all pets in the household to come in contact with it. Particular caution should be taken when using some products around cats and young animals.
To the win the battle against fleas you need to treat your pet with a flea control product or even a combination of flea control products. There are many options available including, shampoos, washes, rinses, spray, spot-ons, chewables, collars and tablets. With so many products on the market the decision on what treatment products to use can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.
A good first step for treating your pet is to give them a bath in a flea shampoo which will kill and remove the fleas, eggs, larva and pupa that are on their coats. This is only effective as an immediate flea treatment and will not prevent the fleas re-infesting the animal. Another good first step is to give your pet a Capstar Tablet. These tablets are a fast acting treatment for adult fleas, but only short term and is to be given daily when adult fleas are seen.
The most successful and necessary treatment method when trying to control fleas is to use a monthly or three monthly treatment option that works on breaking the lifecycle of the fleas. There are a number of topical (spot-on) products available which are applied directly to the animals skin or even collars worn around the pets neck. There are also systemic treatment options, in the form of tablets or chews that can be given to your pet. These tablet type options are often better if your pet frequently has baths or goes swimming as the topical products, although they are waterfast, may have a reduced effectiveness with repeated exposure to water and/or shampoos. These once a month flea control products are what you should use on a long term and permanent basis even once you stop seeing fleas on your pet. The continued use of them and compliance with the instructions will help prevent any further flea infestations.
In order to control fleas in a household you must make sure that you treat all pets in the house with the flea products. Keep in mind that dogs and cats will need different treatment products as many products are not safe to use on cats and should not be used on dogs that are in close contact with cats. It is also best to limit socialisation with pets outside the home, especially when there is a bad flea outbreak, this is to avoid your pets from being re-infested with new fleas.
It is also important when trying to eradicate fleas that on the same day as treatment and on a regular basis you wash any bedding used by your pets. The bedding should be washed in warm to hot water and allowed to dry in direct sunlight in order to kill any fleas, eggs, larva or pupa present. There are also a number of sprays available that can be sprayed directly onto bedding and carpet to kill and control the fleas.
If your pet comes inside or is even close to the house you must make sure you vacuum daily. Make sure you pay particular attention to the areas where they lie, sleep or sit. You can also use a flea bomb in the house but do take care when using them that there are no other animals in the house, like fish, at the time of use.
If you have a severe flea infestation or outbreak further measures may need to be taken in order to get them under control. Not only will you need to treat your pet, you will need to treat the environment as well. You should use a yard or kennel spray and pay particular attention to the areas the animals like to sleep, in shady places and under the house.
The only way to eradicate fleas completely is to follow the above steps and always continue a monthly treatment product, even when you think the problem is under control.
Top Tips To Successfully Control and Prevent Flea Outbreaks
- Understand the different stages of the lifecycle
- Select products to target the different life stages
- Use a fast acting adult flea knockdown product like Capstar or flea shampoo
- Use a suitable topical or systemic flea control product monthly, every month!!
- Treat all pets in the household
- Wash and sun dry all bedding, rugs and toys
- Vacuum the house daily
- Limit socialisation with animals from outside the household
- Spray or treat the yard and/or kennel area with a suitable product
- Read and follow the instructions on all products
- Do not reduce or miss doses
- Be careful in selecting products for use with or around cats
- Year round prevention is always best
- Continue monthly treatments even if you think all the fleas are gone