It is important that the owner of an animal that is experiencing flea problems understand the flea life cycle.
- The adult flea can live happily on cats and dogs so if you are experiencing a problem then you will need to address both the cat and dog that lives in your environment.
- The adult flea needs to suck blood for 24 -36 hours before it can lay eggs on the coat of the animal.
- An adult flea can live on the animal for up to 3 weeks.
- Each female flea can average 27 eggs per day of her adult life.
- The egg falls from the animal and hatches into a larvae form that can live in your carpet, under furniture, in cracks and crevices or anywhere outside the house very successfully.
- The larva develops into a pupa that can live happily for months at a time and not hatch out until conditions are ideal.
- Once hatched out the adolescent flea can exist without sucking blood for a number of weeks until the appropriate animal comes along.
- The whole cycle can be as short as 2 weeks or as long as several months (it has been suggested that the cycle could take as long as 2 years in the ideal conditions).
If you wish to control your fleas in your environment then you need to address the problem long term and include all dogs and cats in your environment.
Cats are NOT little dogs and owners need to take care when treating their animal for fleas.
- Capstar – capsule. Short term control- lasts 24 hours. Action – good. Recommended use is every 24 hours.
- Advantage – “spot on”. Excellent kill for 2 weeks but kill action decreases after that period. In severe cases it is recommended to put on every 2 weeks.
- Advocate – “spot on”. Same kill on fleas as Advantage but also does control most intestinal worms and ear mites in cats. Will prevent heartworm in cats.
- Revolution – “spot on”. Excellent kill for 2 weeks but kill action decreases after that period. Does control ear mites, kills most intestinal worms and protects against heartworm for 4 weeks. In severe cases it is recommended to put on every 2 weeks for flea control.
- Program – injection. It is an IGR and therefore plays no role in killing fleas. Good adjunct with long term flea control to stop fleas that escape the killing net – prevents them from breeding. Recommended to repeat injection every 6 months.
- Capstar – capsule. Short term control- lasts 24 hours. Action – good. Recommended use is every 24 hours.
- Comfortis – a tablet that is given with food and has an excellent kill action for 3 weeks and is recommended to give once a month. It is not affected by washing or swimming the dog.
- Panoramis – a tablet that has the same action as Comfortis and also prevents Heartworm
- Advantage – “spot on”. Excellent kill for 3 weeks but kill action decreases after that period. In severe cases it is recommended to put on every 3 weeks. Dog only has to be dry before application. Takes 48 hours for action to start after application and takes usually 2 hours to kill flea after it bites the animal. Has no repelling action.
- Advocate – “spot on” Same action as Advantage but also prevents Heartworm, does kill most intestinal worms and does treat some Demodex mites.
- Revolution – “spot on”. Excellent kill for 3 weeks but kill action decreases after that period. Does protect against Heartworm for 4 weeks. Dog only needs to stay dry for 2 hours post application and swimming usually has not adverse action on length of kill time. Recommended to apply every 3 weeks. Takes 48 hours for action to start after application and takes usually 2 hours to kill flea after it bites the animal. Has no repelling action.
- Permoxin Concentrate – rinse. Excellent kill for 2 – 3 days but action decreases after that time. Must be applied to skin. Works within 15 minutes of application. Does repel fleas as well as kill fleas. Recommended to use apply twice a week in severe cases.
- Program or Sentinel – tablets. These tablets do NOT kill fleas – they contain an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator). Action lasts a month. Recommended to use once a month. Sentinel does prevent Heartworm.
WHAT ELSE CAN THE OWNER DO TO ELIMINATE FLEAS?
Environmental control is important – if the flea is not attacked at every opportunity then total control is very difficult.
We do recommend that houses are vacuumed on a regular basis.
There are a number of “foggers” on the market to be used inside houses – they combine an adulticide and IGR. In other words they kill the adolescent flea and stop the flea cycle from developing further.
Most foggers contain either Methoprene, Fenoxycarb or Pyriproxifen as their active products.
There are a number of products commercially available to spray outside with but we do not recommend these products because they may be unsafe in the long term with the humans in the area.
The use of lime (available from nurseries) can be used in sandy areas that the animal lies in but please do not allow the animal to go back and lie on the lime. It is applied after raking over the soil and then watered lightly into the area. It does need to be repeated every 6 weeks. It has no effect on the pupa or the larvae – it does kill the adolescent flea.
I JUST WANT TO GET RID OF THE FLEAS ON MY ANIMAL
It is all very confusing to owners who just want to eliminate fleas from their animals so let’s try to simplify the process and come up with a recommendation for your circumstance.
These are some of the questions that need to be answered before developing an attack plan to get rid of fleas
- What type of animals do you have at home? (Some products cannot be used on cats).
- What ages are the animals in question? (Some products cannot be used on very young animals).
- Is your animal very sensitive to flea bites – does it have a flea allergy and how severe is it? (Severe cases need a product that will work fast and repels fleas so they will kill before the flea bites).
- How severe is the flea problem? (Severe flea infestations will take a lot more effort at home to control the problem and may involve different medications)
- Is your animals long or short coated? (Some products are difficult to apply if the animal has long thick coat – this may mean the animal may need to be clipped or may restrict certain methods of application)
- Do your animals swim or get wet a lot? (Regular swimming or bathing will affect all products).
- Can you give your animals a tablet? (Some of the medication programs require the application of the product orally).
- Are you the type of person who is organized or needs reminding? (Some products will only last a few days or a few weeks and for a good result these products need to applied regularly).
- How much effort are you willing to go to? (There is no sense starting a programme that you really do not want to stick to).
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONTROL FLEAS
Each person must weigh up the cost of each product and the owner must assess the severity of the flea problem they want to address.
Cat that has a flea problem – apply Advantage/ Advocate/ Revolution.
Dog that has a flea problem is a little more complicated.
- Dog that has no fleas that goes visiting and comes home with fleas – use Capstar
- Dog that does not swim and has flea problem – give Comfortis/ Panoramis or apply Advantage / Advocate/ Revolution.
- Dog that needs regular bathing and there is a low-grade flea problem – use Comfortis / Panoramis.
- Dog that needs regular bathing and there is high grade flea problem – use Comfortis / Panoramis and put animals on Sentinel or Program to stop any flea not killed from breeding.
- Environment has a low-grade flea problem – use Sentinel or Program to stop flea cycle and combine with Comfortis/Advantage as necessary to kill adult fleas.
- Dog who swims every day etc – use Comfortis
If you have both dogs and cats who live at home and you only want to use one product – Advantage / Revolution.
Be aware that all products need to be applied for an extended time if you want to eliminate fleas from your environment. It can be done but it does mean diligence and using the products that will work and not poison our environment.
Remember that for every flea you see on your dog or cat there will be approximately 10 other fleas you will not see. Even if you are using flea control – do not get complacent and assume that all is well. Keep monitoring your animal especially after the first 2 weeks of applying the flea control. The only way that I know you can be sure is to use a flea comb on a regular basis.
Also remember that we have a flea breeding season all year round – so keep up the good work.
If there is any doubt on what protocol you should use – contact us and discuss it
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What product do you recommend to kill fleas on my dog?
We recommend the use of 5 products.
Comfortis is a tablet that can be given to dogs from 14 weeks and older. It is important that the tablet is given with food or the dog can vomit. Comfortis works for 4 weeks (we do find the dog can get the odd flea in the 4th week and if you have a problem then give Comfortis every 3 weeks). It is not affected by washing or swimming. It is not recommended for pregnant bitches.
Panoramis is a tablet with the same ingredient as Comfortis to kill fleas but also has a product that prevents heartworm.
Revolution is a spot-on that is applied once a month.
Advantage – this is a spot-on that is applied once a month. We are starting to see some resistance to this medication by some fleas so we recommend the owners monitor the animal closely.
Advocate – this contains the same product as Advantage but also contains other products to prevent heartworm.
I have been to a vet who recommends Sentinel for fleas – do you recommend this product?
No we do not. Sentinel contains a product that prevents the flea egg from hatching but Sentinel does NOT kill fleas. If you want to combine Sentinel with another product that kills fleas then we do recommend that. In this case you are using Sentinel to stop any flea not killed from breeding. But if the animal is on Sentinel only – then the flea needs to die from old age.
I have heard of a product that kills fleas for 24 hours. Can you tell me what it is called?
It is called Capstar and it certainly kills fleas for 24 hours but it does not work longer than that. It is recommended on dogs and cats who have been somewhere and have picked up a few fleas and you want to prevent your home from being contaminated. Give a Capstar and usually within an hour all the fleas are dead.
If I wash my dog once a week, will the spot on (Advantage, Advocate or Revolution) last for the whole month?
This is an area of contention – the manufacturers of the product will say that their product is “water fast” and washing will not affect their product. BUT in our opinion most spot-ons are dramatically affected by washing and depending on the shampoo used it will depend on whether the product continues to kill fleas or ticks. If the owner is using a detergent shampoo (most shampoos are detergent based) then the spot on will be removed nearly straight away. If the owner is using a surfactant based shampoo (we only sell surfactant shampoos) then the product is slightly removed.
It is our opinion that an animal washed once a week even with a “good shampoo” will not get more that 2 weeks out of their flea spot-on.
If I live in a house that has fleas – how long will the place be contaminated if I use Comfortis regularly?
We recommend owners continue to use flea control at least once a month for 12 months. But during that 12 months owners should regularly monitor their animal and treat more heavily if they see fleas. For the total program we recommend owners come and talk to one of our animal health professionals.
Can fleas live on human blood?
No they cannot. They can live on dogs’ or cats’ blood but cannot live on humans’ blood. They will try to bite humans if they are very hungry and some humans show severe reactions to flea bites but the flea cannot survive on humans.
Can I give Comfortis after I have used Frontline or Advantage on my dog?
Yes you can. The way these products work within the dog or on the dog is not common to each other and there should be no cross reactive problems.