Not many people realise quite how serious a problem fleas can be for their beloved pet. The most obvious problem is skin irritation and this can be quite severe particularly in pets that are allergic to flea bites. Constant itchiness drastically reduces the quality of life for the pet. You can imagine how awful it would feel yourself to be constantly nibbled by sandflies! What many people don’t realise is that the flea sucks blood from their pet and if this continues untreated for several weeks the pet will eventually become anaemic from constant loss of blood. This can be so severe that it can actually kill the pet. This is particularly a risk in young kittens and puppies. The flea is also responsible for transmitting the common tapeworm which adds to the pets problems. In cats the flea is also responsible for transmission of Mycoplasma haemofelis, a parasite that causes a particularly severe type of anaemia.
The answer to that is it is far better to prevent fleas in the first place rather than simply treating once you find a flea on your pet. The reason for that is because by the time you actually find a flea on your pet you can guarantee that you will already have a flea infestation in your house and that will be harder, take longer and be more expensive to treat than it would have been to use preventative flea treatment. Also the pet would have been suffering needlessly from flea bites for quite a time before you notice the presence of fleas. It is important to understand that fleas are actually quite hard to find especially on dark coated, long haired breeds. If you find one flea on your pet you can be sure that there are at least ten more lurking somewhere on the pet! It is much kinder to assume that your pet does have fleas and treat preventatively rather than assume that they do not have a flea problem.
Another very important fact to be aware of is that the fleas you find on your pet represent only 5% of the total flea population in your home. To understand why, we need to know a little about the flea life-cycle. Adult fleas breed on the pet and lay eggs which fall off into the surrounding environment. The female flea lays 50 eggs per day! Within 10 days the eggs hatch into larvae and 12 days later develop into pupae. So 95% of the flea population in your home is the eggs, larvae and pupae. The whole flea life cycle takes just 2-4 weeks.
The pupae can remain dormant in the environment for many months and are resistant to freezing, desiccation and insecticides. They are stimulated to hatch into adult fleas by vibration, warmth and carbon dioxide. In a cold, empty house the pupae remain dormant but as soon as animals or humans are around to cause vibration by walking around, breathing out carbon dioxide and warming the house the pupae hatch and within seconds the flea jumps onto its host and starts to drink blood. Because pupae need warmth to hatch, owners often assume that fleas are not a problem during winter. Unfortunately this is not true as with modern insulation and heating methods most people’s houses in the 21st century are plenty warm enough to keep the flea cycle going all year round. So the choice is to keep your house freezing cold all winter or to use preventative flea treatment all year round.
To prevent a build up of flea eggs in the environment it is essential that the flea treatment kills ALL adult fleas on the pet quickly BEFORE they have time to lay eggs. When a flea lands on its host it takes 24-hours before it starts to lay eggs so the aim of top quality flea treatment is to kill 100% of fleas within 24-hours. It is even more important that the product continues to kill 100% of fleas within 24-hours for the whole treatment period. Not all flea products can achieve this and many start to wear off before they are next due to be applied.
It is important to treat ALL pets in the household at the same time to break the flea life-cycle. With heavy flea burdens it will also be necessary to treat the environment with insecticides that prevent eggs already present from hatching.
The ideal flea treatment should kill fleas within 24hrs for the whole treatment period, have a long lasting action, be easy to administer and be non-toxic to the pet and humans. Not all flea products on the market can meet these criteria, especially those sold at non-veterinary outlets. Some products might reduce flea numbers but leave enough active breeding fleas alive to keep the flea cycle going. Some products contain organophosphates or permethrin both of which are toxic if used incorrectly and there is known flea resistance to permethrin. Sprays, shampoos and powders are messy to apply, have little or no residual activity and are easily washed off by rain or swimming.
The more modern and effective flea treatments are applied in the form of a pour-on on the back of the neck or as a chewable treat. There is quite a large range of products to choose from but BEWARE, as not all pour-on flea treatments are the same. Some are based on organophosphates or permethrin and others simply have a very inferior performance.
There is a huge range of flea treatments on the market to choose from nowadays and it can be difficult for you to decide which product to use. Some products are excellent whereas others are a waste of time and money.
At The Vet Centre we only stock quality products that we have faith in, in terms of safety and effectiveness. We choose non toxic products that have proven performance. We stock a large range of pour-on products to suit different situations. Some will treat worms as well as fleas and some will also treat ticks, ear mites, skin mites and lice. One very important benefit of buying your preventative flea treatment from a Vet is the professional advice that can be given about which product is best for your own pets situation. Not all pets are the same and it is important that the most appropriate product is used.
All our front counter staff at The Vet Centre are very knowledgeable about the products we sell and enjoy sharing that knowledge with you. Below is a table to show some of the properties of our range of pour-on flea and worm products but before buying make sure you ask our advice.