HOW DO I TELL IF MY PET HAS FLEAS?
One of the first signs of a flea infestation is that your pet will be scratching, biting or licking and seem quite irritated, particularly around the tail base area. On closer examination you may find adult fleas in the coat or at the base of the fur on the skin. You may even find flea dirt that looks like small black specks of grit, similar to finely ground pepper. This is actually digested dried blood (aka flea poop). On cats you may not see any evidence as they are such good self-groomers – looking under their chins may reveal some flea dirt that they could not reach.
ONE FLEA IS ONE TOO MANY
Besides being unbelievably agile (a flea can jump 30cm in one leap!) they have another talent – breeding. A female will start to lay eggs 36-48hours after her first blood meal and can produce more than 2000 eggs during her lifetime!
Another scary thought is that the adult flea you see on your pet represents only 5% of the fleas in your environment. The rest of the population is represented in the egg (50%), larval (35%) and pupae (10%) stages found in the carpets, furniture, bedding and garden.
WHERE DID THE FLEAS COME FROM?
Flea pupae can remain dormant for up to a year under favourable conditions. They lie dormant in the garden, or in your carpet and furniture, until they are able to hitch a ride on either you or your pet.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO RID MY PET OF FLEAS?
Fleas are the number one cause of skin disease in pets and can cause problems ranging from simple irritation to severe itchiness and secondary skin sores. Some pets are even allergic to flea bites (a condition known as flea-allergic-dermatitis), where one bite is all it takes to set off a horrible reaction. Fleas also have the ability to transmit tapeworms in dogs and cats.
DO I NEED TO TREAT FOR FLEAS ALL YEAR AROUND?
Fleas are much easier to prevent than eliminate, so for the most effective method of flea control start before you see fleas. Fleas are not just a summer problem – South African winters can be mild and even when its really cold, our heating indoors provides a wonderful environment for flea development.
It is also important to remember to treat all your pets. You may have a pristine environment on your side of the fence but your pet can pick up hitch hiker fleas everytime they prowl the neighbourhood or go out for a walk. Having all-year-round protection means that those opportunistic hitch hikers will not live long enough to be able to lay eggs and bring the flea cycle into your yard.
SO HOW DO I GET RID OF THESE CRITTERS?
There are many different flea products available today so when undertaking flea control you have to consider both the severity of your infestation as well as the various stages of the flea life-cycle. In severe infestations, it is sometimes necessary to treat both the pet and the environment. However, due to the effectiveness of modern flea insecticides, treatment of your pet is often all that is needed. Here are some options:-
1. Products that kill adult fleas on your pet
Spot on treatments – effective, easy to apply, once a month treatments. Some products also include deworming and tick treatment. Examples of spot on treatments include Activyl, Revolution, Frontline and Broadline.
Flea shampoo – kills fleas on your pet at the time of the bath, but once rinsed off has no lasting effect on fleas. Nice to use on young puppies and kittens when other products may not be safe to use yet.
Collars – Seresto collars last for 8months and can be extremely useful and effective when a busy lifestyle makes it hard to remember to re-apply your top spot monthly. Note – supermarket flea collars do not have a long action and are often not very effective treatment.
Tasty chews – highly palatable chews that provide either 4weeks (Nexgard) or 12 weeks (Bravecto) of protection have revolutionized our fight against fleas. Fast acting, highly effective and a pleasure to administer.
2. Environmental control:
Vacuum carpets & upholstery 2-3 times a week to remove eggs and stimulate dormant fleas (remember to treat the vacuum bag) , wash pet blankets weekly and leave in the sun to dry, spray all those nooks and crannies in your house and kennels with an environmental flea spray (eg. Ultrum Duration).
With the many different flea products available today, the options can be overwhelming. For the best solution for your situation pop in and chat to one of our Teva Team and they will assist you in choosing the product most suitable for you and your pet.