In our 1st article we covered what fleas are, and how to know if your pet has fleas.
Preventing a flea infestation
Effective prevention is much simpler than curing an infestation. For effective flea prevention we generally advise that you should treat all your dogs and cats all year round, especially if they mix with other animals. Even indoor only cats can suffer from a flea infestation, and although fleas are more common in warmer weather we see them all year round in our mild Devon climate and with central heating commonplace. Any breaks/lapse in treatment will mean your pet is at risk of picking up fleas again. Once on your pet they will start rapidly breeding and laying eggs which will infest your home.
Prescription products (those that only a vet can prescribe) help to prevent an infestation by effectively and quickly killing adult fleas. They also prevent any eggs that are laid from hatching out and/or kill the flea before they have a chance to lay any eggs. Different products are available to suit your pet and their lifestyle e.g. tasty chews, spot-on preparations and long-lasting collars for dogs and small palatable tablets, spot-on preparations and long-lasting collars for cats.
Treating a flea infestation
Treatment for a flea infestation can be an expensive, time-consuming and frustrating process.
- Treat all the dogs and cats in the household (rabbits and ferrets can also be affected). Speak to a member of our team about the best and safest product to use for your pets. Make sure it is the correct dose size for each animal’s weight and that it is applied/given correctly. Prescription products are available that will quickly kill any adult fleas present on your pet and prevent further egg laying/development stages, thus breaking the flea life-cycle. If you are buying products in a shop or online, please make sure they are safe for your pet – some products are not safe for cats or rabbits.
- Vacuum your home thoroughly, ensuring you move and vacuum under all furniture and in the nooks and crannies. Do this even if you have laminate flooring. This will mechanically remove some of the eggs, larvae and pupae in the home.
- Wash pet’s bedding and other washable soft furnishings at 60ºC.
- Thoroughly spray all floor space in the home with a household spray e.g. Indorex – this may require more than one can. You need to apply it everywhere the pet goes, including the car. Remember to spray underneath furniture. A good spray will kill adult fleas and prevent development of eggs and larvae. Unfortunately the pupal stage is resistant to household sprays. Read the instructions on the spray carefully to ensure you use it safely.
- Encourage the pupal stage of the life cycle to hatch out into new adult fleas. You do this so they will jump onto your treated pet and die. This can be done by giving them warmth, vibration, and humidity. To provide these stimuli: turn up the heating in the home, place wet towels on warm radiators/bowls of hot water on the floor to increase humidity, and vacuum to generate warmth and vibrations to encourage pupae to hatch. When new adult fleas emerge from pupae they will be killed by the household spray, or jump onto the pet which has been treated and be killed. These fleas will often be seen on the pet before they die.
- Vacuum the home again 2 days after treating the house with a spray.
- Ensure the pet(s) have the full run of the house – as adult fleas emerge they want to jump onto your pet to feed. The fleas need access to the pet to then be killed by the treatment used on the animal.
- If you know your pet is at risk of an infestation, it is essential you keep up with regular flea treatment. Follow the advice on the product regarding the frequency of application required. Some products have calendar stickers or mobile phone reminder apps to help you. If you buy your flea products from us, make sure you have opted in to receive our complimentary treatment reminders.
It may take several months to remove all the life stages from your home. Until the environment is completely free from healthy eggs, larvae and pupae, you will still see fleas on your pet as they emerge from pupae.
If you need further help or advice, give us a call on 01803 606059 (Torquay) or 843836 (Paignton), or email us.