Fleas - The Facts and solutions


Picture on the right showing an adult flea on a pin head.

The same fleas affect both dogs and cats. They also bite humans (some more than others!!).

Adult fleas (which suck blood from cats and dogs causing them to itch) represent only 1% of the total population in your house and environment. The rest are present as egg, larval and pupal stages.

Adult fleas can live for 3 months and lay thousands of microscopic eggs whilst on the dog/cat. These fall off onto the ground and are distributed all around the house by both owner and pet.

The eggs develop into larvae in as little as 2 days if they are supplied with enough warmth (central heating) and humidity.

The larvae feed on the debris in carpets etc. and migrate to dark areas and crevices where they develop into pupae inside a cocoon.


Close up view of a carpet showing flea eggs, larvae and flea faeces.

In about 10 days the pupae develop into adult fleas which can remain in the cocoon (where they are resistant to insecticides) for up to 5 months.

The young adults are stimulated to emerge from their cocoon by body-heat, vibration and movement. They then jump onto their host and restart the cycle.

Fleas can be difficult to see – but their pepper-like flea dirt is often easier to find.

Central heating and wall-to-wall carpeting means that fleas are now not just a problem in summer but all year-round.

The entire life cycle can be completed in as little as 14 days in the right conditions causing a massive build-up and infestation of both pets and house.


FLEA LARVA

  • To control fleas on your pets it is as important to treat the environment (your home) as it is to treat the animals themselves.
  • Fleas spread tapeworms (Diplydium Caninum) to both dogs and cats. Fleas become infected with tapeworms eggs and are eaten by the dog/cat when grooming. Tapeworms then develop in the animal.
  • All cats and dogs that have fleas should be treated every 3 months for tapeworms.

Fleas – The Solutions

It is essential that the environment (i.e. your house) is treated to stop the eggs, larvae and pupae already there developing into adult fleas.

All animals in the house must be treated with an appropriate product. Generally, this will be the same or similar for each animal for maximum benefit.

The house and the environment

“Acclaim Spray” contains an insecticide to kill the adult fleas and a long acting insect growth regulator which prevents eggs and larvae maturing. Using it throughout the house will effectively break the flea life cycle; giving protection for up to 7 months.

“Flea Ban” is a powder, is non toxic and if brushed into carpets and furnishings will kill fleas and their larvae as well as house dust mites for up to 12 months.

“Program” whilst this preparation is administered directly to your pet it is best thought of as an environmental treatment. It does not kill fleas directly but rather is ingested by the flea and prevents any eggs laid from hatching. It is administered orally or in the case of cats can be given by injection. As fleas are now a year round problem it should be administered throughout the year.

Treating your Labrador

“Frontline” is a non-organophosphate insecticide which binds to the hair of the pet giving long lasting protection. It is available in a pump spray or “spot-on” preparation and is safe to use in puppies and kittens.

“Nuvan Top” is an organophosphate spray which rapidly kills fleas, it is relatively cheap but has to be used every 7-14 days.

“Preventef” flea collars contain the organophosphate diazinon which is slowly released from the collar giving 120 days protection.

“Program” tablets and injection – see above.

“Stronghold” is a new spot-on preparation that kills fleas. It also treats sarcoptic mange (“fox mange”) and roundworms (but not tapeworms). It is applied monthly and is particularly useful for dogs which may come into contact with mange.
FLEA PUPA



3rd February 2008