The past several years we have seen a huge increase in Flea Allergy patients. What this means is that there is a very large flea population in our area. Even if you have never seen a flea on your pet, we highly recommend MONTHLY preventative.
1. Fleas are biting insects that can infest dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and the environment. Wild animals (raccoons, opossums) can bring fleas into a yard as well as neighboring cats and traveling dogs.
2. Fleas are "equal opportunity infestors": If one animal in a home has fleas, other pets in the home do too.
3. The flea life cycle consists of eggs, which hatch into larvae. The larvae become pupae, which molt into adult fleas. Under ideal conditions (70% humidity, 800F), the time from egg to adult flea can be a short as 16 days. And one female flea can lay hundreds of eggs in her life. Just a few fleas can lead to an infestation in a very short period of time.
4. The pupa stage is difficult to kill with any available insecticide.
5. Fleas swallowed by your pet during grooming can transmit tapeworms.
1. Pets can become allergic to flea saliva, which is injected when a flea bites an animal. After the allergy develops, just one or two flea bites can initiate a severe itching episode.
2. Factors that predispose a pet to flea allergy include the pet's genetic background and their frequency of exposure to fleas.
3. Signs of flea allergy include biting/scratching at the rump, back legs, inguinal area, and hot spots. Cats groom their hair out anywhere on the body and may develop many small crusts.
4. Flea allergic pets rarely have fleas or even flea dirt on them because of their intense grooming.
5. Medications such as corticosteriods (cortisone) will control the symptoms of flea allergy, but it is best to eliminate the source of the problem – the flea!
For best flea control, you need a two-pronged attack: flea control for the pets and for the environment.
Flea control for pets:
1. All pets in the home must be treated!
2. For pets not allergic to flea bites, products such as Bravecto, Nexgard, Comfortis, Frontline, Advantage II, etc (there are many) are effective. Some products have a heartworm or other internal parasite additive in it for added protection and convenience.
3. Pets allergic to fleas need a product that can repel fleas, namely a 2% permethrin spray. This needs to be applied more frequently during the height of "flea season". This is for dogs only! Many of these types of products have been discontinued.
4. Cats (and puppies) are very sensitive to certain flea products. Do not use a product on a cat until you have read the label carefully to make sure it is safe on cats! There is no product safe to use on cats that repel fleas.
5. Flea shampoos have minimal impact on diminishing the flea population, but are helpful when a pet is infested with fleas.
6. Some flea collars are effective (Seresto); others are not.
7. Natural products such as Brewer's yeast and garlic have no proven efficacy.
For the environment
* Thorough vacuuming or steam cleaning prior to flea treatment is recommended.
* Regardless of the following treatment options chosen, the home environment should be treated twice, 2-3 weeks apart, initially, then every 6 months. Use a product containing an adulticide (pyrethrin, permethrin) and a growth regulator (methoprene/Precorä, pyriproxifen/Nylarä) to interrupt the flea life cycle. *
a. Professional exterminators: this is less work for you. Make sure the company uses not only an adulticide, but a growth regulator as well.
b. Premise sprays: These are hand-held aerosol devices. More work, but you control the delivery, make sure to get under furniture, etc.
c. Foggers: Home must be evacuated while fogger is set off. Foggers do not apply product evenly. Ineffective for good control, does not get product where it needs to be placed.
d. Boric acid (sodium polyborate): desiccates flea eggs and larvae. There are some specially treated boric acid products the cling to carpet for extended effective flea control.
e. Frequent vacuuming with prompt disposal of the vacuum bag is helpful!
Limit pet's access to shady areas with much organic debris (e.g., under decks, near leaves) where fleas like to live.
Steinernema carpocasae: this is a nematode that feeds on flea larvae and pupae and can be applied to the yard for biologic flea control. They are ineffective in very dry or cold weather.
Chemical insecticides (malathione, dursban) give an initial but limited kill of adult fleas.