Fleas are out in force this summer because of the warmth and humidity. People complain that flea treatments on their pets are not working, but if the fleas are jumping onto the pet as fast as the treatment is killing them, we can’t blame the treatment.
Fleas spend most of their lives OFF dogs or cats, so we must attack them off the pets as well as on them.
Look at flea control for some suggestions on how you can get rid of the pesky pests.
Control fleas ON the dog:
- Capstar or Comfortis tablets kill fleas and paralyse flea mouthparts preventing deposition of saliva.
- Monthly applications of Advantage, Advocate, Advantix, Frontline, Revolution, or Comfortis throughout the year keep flea numbers as low as possible.
- Flea powders, sprays, and shampoos kill the fleas present on your dog at the time of application but have little residual effect.
Control fleas IN the dog’s environment:
- Professional fumigation of the house and yard will control egg, larval and pupal stages of the flea life cycle most effectively.
- If you spray or flea bomb yourself repeat the application in 3-4 weeks to catch the next hatching of pupae.
- Some products also contain growth regulators that prevent flea maturation.
- Wash bedding in hot water and dry in the sun.
- Vacuum carpets and furniture often.
- Rake up leaves in shady places and provide outside kennels or hidey holes off the ground.
- Flea larvae love dust so provide working dogs with concrete runs.
Do not be too quick to blame kennels for fleas on your dog. When your pets are gone pupae remain in their cocoon because the house is quiet and empty. When they return the vibrations, heat and light stimulate the emergence of adult fleas. They jump on dogs, cats, and even people looking for a blood meal.
Effective flea control depends on knowing the flea’s life cycle.
Adult fleas are only 5% of the entire flea population. The eggs they lay on the dog fall off into the dog’s environment. Flea eggs are pearly white and too small to see without magnification. They hatch into larvae in 1 to 10 days depending on how humid and hot it is.
Flea larvae eat organic debris and adult flea faeces. They avoid direct sunlight and burrow into carpet fibres, grass, branches, leaves, or soil.
Dry conditions kill larvae. Outdoor larval development occurs where the ground is shaded and moist and where flea-infested pets spend a significant amount of time. Indoors, larvae survive best in the carpet or in cracks in the floor.
After 5 to 11 days larvae pupate. While in the cocoon pupae are resistant to insecticides and continue to emerge for 3 months despite insecticide application.
Pupae emerge as adult fleas in another 5-10 days if stimulated by the vibration of passing pets, physical pressure, carbon dioxide, or heat.
When the adult flea emerges it moves towards body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide. Following the first blood meal, female fleas begin egg production within 48 hours and continue for 100 days.
This entire life cycle (adult flea – egg – larva – pupa – adult) takes 7 – 21 days depending on temperature and humidity conditions.
Flea control depends on knowing this life cycle.
What is flea allergy?
Some dogs are allergic to fleas and react with non-stop scratching and biting. Normal dogs are only mildly irritated by fleas. The flea allergic dog is allergic to flea saliva. Just one flea bite causes intense and long lasting itchiness.
The dog chews, licks, or scratches over the rump, on the belly and down the legs. This causes hair loss and damage to the skin. Breaks in the skin allow bacteria in and infection to develop.
What is the proper treatment?
We must eliminate all fleas on the dog and in the environment.
Capstar or Comfortis kill the fleas and paralyse flea mouthparts preventing deposition of saliva.
Every month treat your dog with Advantage, Advocate, Advantix, Frontline, Revolution, or Comfortis to keep flea numbers as low as possible.
Fleas spend most of their life cycle off the dog as larvae and pupae in bedding, carpet, dirt and leaves. Wash bedding in hot water and dry in the sun. Vacuum carpets and furniture often. Rake up leaves in shady places and provide outside kennels or hidey holes off the ground. Call a professional to fumigate your house.
Flea control depends on knowing the life cycle of fleas.
Cortisone products like prednisolone block the allergic reaction and give relief from the intense itching.
If your dog develops a bacterial infection in the skin, your vet will prescribe antibiotics.