A Flea-ting Moment!

The creeping, crawling, gnashing, nasty nibblers are on the march! They're everywhere - in your carpet, between your floorboards even in your garden and the blood thirsty blighters are seeking out your pets too. Yes, the Ferocious Aussie Flea is back - and with a vengeance. Hop into serious flea control to prevent your pet from suffering.

Fleas are miserable little parasites. They suck blood, make animals, especially puppies, anaemic, they spread tapeworm and cause serious skin irritations. Some unlucky pets are also allergic to fleas.

Controlling fleas relies on two separate approaches.  The first is to get rid of fleas from your pets and the second is to get rid of fleas and their eggs from the environment that your pet lives in.

Eliminating Your Pet's Fleas

Thankfully there is a range of 'new vogue' insecticides now on the market that make flea control much easier.

In the past, we have had to rely on fairly toxic insecticides to control fleas. Most pet owners are now turning to products such as Frontline, Advantage, Advocate, Revolution, Advantic and Sentinel for flea control. Each of these is effective, safe and easy to use.

Frontline can also be used on dogs and cats. It is available in two forms. The first is Frontline Spray and the second is Frontline Plus. The spray form is very effective and one spray should eliminate fleas for two to three months. You need to apply it properly by thoroughly rubbing it into the animal's coat with a gloved hand. This does take a bit of work but it's worth the effort. If this is a bit too difficult, then the Frontline Plus 'top spot' version, which is used every month, is easier, particularly with cats.

Frontline's 'top spot' for dogs strong point is that it is easy to use, and if used every two weeks, will also control ticks. For flea control it only needs to be used every month.

For cats, Frontline Plus 'top spot' is a lot easier to use than the spray, as most fractious felines resent sprays. With Frontline Plus, a concentrated form of the insecticide from a small vial is placed on the back of the neck so no spraying or fighting is needed. It needs to be repeated every four weeks.

Advantage is also a concentrated form of insecticide that comes in small vials and is available in this form for both dogs and cats. It is very easy to use and new research shows that the micro crystals of Advantage dropped from the animal's coat are like 'mine fields' of doom for flea larvae that are in the pet's environment. Therefore, as well as controlling adult fleas on the animal, it also controls the developing larvae that have hatched from eggs.

Sentinel is a new product. It combines the insect growth regulator Program with the once per month heartworm preventive, Endovet. Used monthly, it will control fleas, heartworm and most intestinal worms too. Its flea control effect relies on preventing flea eggs from hatching.

All these products are available from your local pet store.

There is also a wide range of other flea control products on the market, but most are being pushed aside by the ease of modern flea control products such as those mentioned above.

Flea shampoos deserve a mention. If you are washing your pets, why not use a product that controls fleas too? My favourite in this regard is Fido's Free Itch Shampoo. It is a locally produced product and leaves the coat smelling clean and fresh.

Controlling Fleas in the Environment

With severe flea infestations, controlling the flea eggs and larvae that are in the house and garden is also important.

With severe flea infestations, controlling the flea eggs and larvae that are in the house and garden is also important.

A single flea will lay hundreds of eggs. The eggs drop from the animal's coat and are thereby spread around the environment the animal lives in. They hatch into larvae which progress through a pupal stage to adult fleas.

The eggs and the larvae are quite sticky and will adhere to carpet and the pet's bedding. They will also lodge in cracks and crevices around the pet's environment.

The first step to controlling fleas in the environment is to do a thorough Spring clean up. This involves removing as much dirt and debris from the pet's environment as possible. Vacuum the house, paying attention to areas near the skirting boards and under furniture as this is where the eggs are known to accumulate. Naturally concentrate on any area in which your pet sleeps.

Dispose of the dirt from the vacuum cleaner into a rubbish bag, add some insecticide spray or flea powder and then place it in the garbage bin.

The next step is to kill the glacial mounds of flea eggs and larvae that abound in the environment. 

Thankfully, if the products mentioned earlier are used, even if flea eggs do hatch the adult fleas will be killed quickly once they get on the animal's coat and usually before they can lay eggs.

If you are having a major problem with fleas, you may like to use a product containing an insect growth regulator such as methoprene. Growth regulators inactivate the flea eggs that are in the environment and prevent them from hatching. A variety of products are available containing this compound and most also contain a version of pyrethrins that will also kill adult fleas (and other insect pests). The most useful forms are produced as a fogger aerosol used to 'bomb' the house.

Good flea control will make your animal a much happier pet.