Fleas. Pesky, annoying, itchy, disease-carrying parasites with an amazing ability to infest a home. Don’t be fooled if you think you just see a couple of fleas on your pet. Adult female fleas can lay somewhere between 40 and 50 eggs per day. These eggs will likely drop off into the environment where they will complete their life cycle by hatching into pupae, then developing into larvae, and then adults. While a well-fed flea might live a year and a half, the average lifespan of most adult fleas is somewhere between 30 to 90 days. One female flea could easily produce 2000 eggs in her lifetime. Yikes!
Fleas are not just nuisances. They make your pets miserable from itching (especially if your dog or cat has a flea allergy which can then lead into other secondary problems). They can make you itchy. They can give pets tapeworms. Did you know they can also carry and transmit diseases that also affect humans (e.g., Cat-scratch disease, Plague, Typhus)?
Effective flea control is therefore critical at all times of year. Perhaps you are convinced about the importance of flea control, but with so many products available, you are unsure of the best product(s) to select for your pet. Consider these points when choosing how to control fleas in your pets:
- When selecting a flea control product, it is important to understand how a particular product works to set appropriate expectations for product effectiveness.
- Flea control products work in a variety of ways by targeting various life stage(s) of the flea. For example, one product may kill adult fleas while a different product may render adult females unable to produce viable eggs.
- Product dosing frequency can vary depending on the pharmacology of the product. If the product is meant to be dosed once monthly, you can expect it to work for the month. If a product is meant to only work for 24 hours, then don’t expect it to work all month
- Topical flea control products have been available for years (collars, topical liquids); now we also have newer oral flea control products available as well
- If you already have fleas, environmental decontamination, clean up, and treatment is crucial (remember the egg numbers?). Wash bedding, vacuum anywhere your pet frequents in the house daily (and throw vacuum bags away immediately), and consider area flea treatments.
- It can take several months to fully eliminate a flea infestation. Using a multi-modal flea control approach by combining various flea control methods can speed up the process (e.g., using an adulticidal monthly flea product along with a product that will keep eggs from hatching while also cleaning/ treating the environment).
If you have questions or need flea product recommendations, give us a call or stop in. We have great products available for your cats and dogs as well as very effective environmental treatments.
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS