The 5 steps in managing fleas

The 5 steps in managing fleas
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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Kittens, Puppies.
Image credit: Image from mysacvet.com

Fleas on our pets are such a big problem on the KZN south coast, so the 5 steps in managing fleas stem from the huge demand for a proper flea control programme. Pet owners can complain all they want, but fleas are here to stay. The only way we can combat them is by using proper, proven strategic flea treatment products. There are, however, households where the routine strategic product simply isn’t enough. The 5 steps in managing fleas will definitely help in those cases.

But first, I would like to introduce or stress the difference between tactical and strategic flea control.

Tactical flea control is where the pet owner only treats fleas as they arise. This can either be daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly, depending on many environmental factors and the owner’s ability to properly observe for fleas. Tactical flea control should only be used in combination with a strategic flea control program, if needed and never on its own.

Strategic flea control, on the other hand, is where the owner uses products with a known efficiency duration. If the product lasts for four weeks, it is re-applied every four weeks, whether the owner can spot fleas or not. Strategic flea control should be the basis of any flea control program.

The 5 steps in managing fleas

1) Treat all the household pets!

Many clients neglect the necessity of protecting all their pets from fleas. That includes dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, even if a pet does not “have fleas”. When your close neighbours have pets, theirs should be treated too. When one pet is not treated it serves as a “blood reservoir” for environmental fleas to be able to survive and reproduce.

Dog kissing a cat
For an efficient flea control programme, all the pets in the house should be treated.

2) Use strategic flea control as a basis

Popular strategic flea control products include Advantix, Advocate, Frontline Plus, NexGard (each lasting for about a month), Bravecto (lasts for 3 months) and Seresto (lasts 6 – 8 months).

The 5 steps in managing fleas
The newest-generation tick and flea management products for dogs come in tablet form.
Vet Hospital Port Shepstone stocks an extensive range of premium tick and flea products. Also available at reduced prices from our online vet shop.

3) Follow the instructions carefully

Common instructions that are not followed include incorrect application, bathing suggestions and frequency (or infrequency) of application.

All top spot flea treatment products should be applied in one or two spots on the skin (not on the hair) between the shoulder blades to prevent licking. The general rule when using top spots is that the pet should not be bathed three days before and/or three days after the application. These products need the natural oils of the skin to be absorbed into the bloodstream of the pet. Oral tablets should generally be given with food.

Dog reading intructions
When it comes to flea control, always read the instructions carefully.
Always note the indicated species. Pyrethroids & Pyrethrins (Advantix, Flego Aerosol, Ultrum Duration) are poisonous to cats & fish. Fipronil (Frontline Plus) is poisonous to rabbits. Double check on the package insert or consult your family veterinarian on the usage of certain products in certain animals.

4) Treat the environment

According to the life cycle of fleas, the adult fleas that you see on your pets only make up 5% of the total infestation. In addition to pet treatment, for an effective, holistic, flea control programme, it is advisable to use an environmental treatment as well.

The flea pyramid
Only 5% of fleas are on your pet, the rest is in the environment.

Products such as Ultrum Duration Aerosol or Flego Aerosol can be used to spray in hard-to-reach places such as cracks and crevices, blankets and inside dog kennels. Caution must be taken not to spray directly on animals or their food and water or near fish.

Calling in exterminators, using foggers, vacuuming carpets and washing your pet’s bedding will also help.

5) Use tactical flea control as backup

Tactical flea treatment products are usually used for their “knock down” effect, rather than their durability. These products mainly include Capstar, flea shampoos, dips and powders. Many owners give Capstar or bath an animal with a treatment shampoo only when they spot fleas.

Products that can be used include, for example. Ultrum Plus Dog Shampoo and Frontline spray.

Vet Hospital Port Shepstone stocks an extensive range of veterinary-specific, long-lasting flea treatment products.

About the author
About the author
Renier is a qualified, experienced companion animal veterinarian whose main interests are animal health and strengthening pet-owner relationships.
View all posts by Dr Renier Delport

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