YAY! THE NIGHTS ARE GETTING LIGHTER, WE'VE DITCHED THE SNOW (HOPEFULLY!) AND IT'S TIME TO PUT YOUR WINTER COATS AWAY. SUMMER IS COMING!
For us humans, this means BBQs, sunglasses, tan lines and pub gardens, however for our pets it may not always be as fun. For them it can mean itchy damn pesky fleas all summer long!
As owners, it's important that we stay ahead of the game. If you’ve seen one flea, it’s likely that there are more, so it’s important to check your pet for fleas regularly.
How do I look for fleas? I'm not really sure what to look for.
Fleas are small wingless insects which appear black or brown. Gently comb your pet’s fur, focusing on flea hot-spot areas such as around their ears, down their back and around their tail. If you see “flea dirt”, a black crumbly dirt, it could be a sign they have fleas. Other signs to look for include excessive itching, sudden scratching and over grooming. If your pet is allergic or sensitive to them, you may also notice sores on their skin, broken hairs or patches of hair loss.
AHHH my pet has fleas! Now what?
To really understand how to fight fleas, first we need to learn a little bit about them. A flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which then fall off the animal and into your carpet, bedding and other soft furnishings. It’s estimated that only 5% of the flea life cycle is on the animal, and the other 95% is in the home. This means that only treating your pet is only treating 5% of the problem.
There are four stages of the flea life cycle; adult flea, eggs, larvae and pupae. Only the adult flea is on the pet, and the pupae are virtually indestructible, so how are you supposed to stop them?! We’re here to help!
So how do I get rid of them?
It’s vital to treat both the pet and the home. At That Pet Place, we stock Frontline (Fipronil) and Johnsons 4Fleas (Imidacloprid) spot on for cats and dogs. Fipronil and Imidacloprid are active ingredients that kill adult fleas on the pet. It’s important to treat all pets in your home, even if it looks like only one has fleas.
You also need to spray your home with a household spray containing an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). The spray kills the eggs and larvae, and remember the pupae that are quite indestructible? This is where the IGR comes in. IGR penetrates the larvae so that once it hatches into an adult flea the exoskeleton can’t develop properly – this means the flea can’t feed or lay eggs and will be killed by the on-pet flea treatment without having reproduced. We recommend Johnsons 4Fleas Household Spray 600ml. Make sure you spray every room in the house, even ones where your furry friend isn’t allowed, as eggs will have been trodden around by us clumsy humans!
Once you’ve treated the pet and the house, you can help speed up the process by washing their bedding and anything else washable at the highest temperature you can, hoovering very thoroughly, and using a flea comb daily. You can also spray the inside of your hoover and your car with the flea spray for extra coverage.
Ensure you continue treating your pet with the flea treatment as often as recommended, and don't forget to treat for worms too if your pet has fleas. It’s important you only use a product intended for cats on cats, and vice versa. It’s also vital that you don’t underdose – much like us finishing a course of antibiotics too soon, it can do more damage than good and will cause the treatment to be less effective.
I’ve heard some brands no longer work, is this true?
Many people are under the impression that certain brands containing Fipronil no longer work. There are several reasons why people might think this:
- Many people don’t use the products correctly or don’t take extra precautions such as treating the home, which makes any product less effective. Remember, using only a flea treatment on your pet treats just 5% of the problem!
- Fipronil is absorbed by the oil glands. The oil is secreted into the fur all over the body, which fleas crawl through. This then causes intense hyperactivity in the fleas, eventually causing them to die, but in the meantime they will come to the surface, making them more visible and leading people to think that the problem is getting worse. This is actually a sign that the flea treatment is working!
- Flea pupae can lay dormant for months, especially in cooler weather, so when the weather warms up or radiators come on it’s normal to see new fleas emerging. If you’ve continued treating your pet year round then the new fleas should die within 24 hours, and if you’ve used a household spray containing IGR they won’t be able to lay eggs.
- Due to the long life cycle, it can take around three monthly uses of a flea treatment to get rid of a particularly bad infestation. During this time, new fleas will hatch and become visible on your pet’s fur, or they may pick up new fleas from other animals or outdoors. Many people see new fleas and panic, thinking their flea treatment hasn’t worked, so they try a different brand. The fleas then die, leading people to think the new treatment is superior. The truth is, if you’ve continued to treat your pet preventatively, they probably would have died anyway! It usually takes 24 hours for a flea to die, so it’s very likely you will continue to see fleas on your pet from time to time between the time they hatch and the time they die. This doesn’t mean your flea treatment isn’t working.
There is little evidence that fleas are becoming resistant to Fipronil (do a quick Google search if you don’t believe us!), and in most cases the research found user error was to blame for product failure (incorrect application, not treating the home etc). However, if this is something you’re concerned about then it can be good practice to switch between active ingredients now and again, which is why we stock both Frontline and Johnsons 4Fleas.
What’s the difference between what you sell and what the vet sells?
Once upon a time, Fipronil and Imidacloprid were relatively new. They were only available for sale through vets and qualified persons, because of their newness and need to keep a record of the pet’s and owner’s details. This enables manufacturers to identify and track any problems and contact people should there ever be an issue. However, now that they have been around for a long time and plenty of research has been done into their effects, they are deemed safe enough for general sale.
Many modern treatments that vets sell are combination flea and worm treatments, and sometimes contain an IGR to help interrupt the life cycle. These often contain newer active ingredients or a combination of active ingredients that are not yet licensed for general sale.